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New Legislation to Increase Assistance for Crime Victims

In recognition of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week, April 6-12, Assemblyman Joe Lentol announced a series of bills this week that will increase support for victims of crime and their families – with a special emphasis on victims of domestic violence.

“In the aftermath of a crime, it can seem nearly impossible for individuals and families to put their lives back together,” said Lentol. “The package of legislation I helped pass provides critical assistance to victims who have had their world turned upside down.”

Just this past week, two instances of domestic violence and physical abuse were reported to police in North Brooklyn.

In the first, a 37-year-old Richardson Street resident was strangled and beaten by her 41-year-old husband at their apartment.

What started as a verbal argument quickly turned ugly, when the husband became enraged and began to choke the woman and then banged her head against the floor.

The woman suffered lacerations and bruising on her neck and face as a result of the attack.

In the second, a couple blamed each other for using a 3×3 wooden board to attack the other, at a restaurant. In this case too, a verbal argument got out of hand and led to violence.

While no one was killed in these incidents, they point to the dangerous look domestic violence can often take. In 2013, 26 people were killed in Brooklyn as a result of domestic violence, according to the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence. This is an increase from 24 such cases in 2012 – even though the citywide number has gone down from 76 cases in 2012 to 62 in 2013.

Lentol’s package of bills is aiming to bring that number down further. One of its bills focuses on encouraging victims to report incidents of domestic violence. Tenants are often afraid they will lose housing if they report being a witness or victim to an instance of domestic violence. The new law will strengthen the rights for those reporting such crimes.

“No victim should ever have to think twice about calling the police or requesting emergency services for fear of jeopardizing their housing,” said Lentol.

Other measures in the package of bills provide victims’ spouses or domestic partners with financial assistance from the Office of Victim Services, to pay for their transportation during court hearings, and for counseling services.

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