A legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay Week of May 26, 2014
New Laws Would Punish Stalking, Provide Safe Harbor for Women
There are a number of measures I sponsor that would expand women’s rights and
protections, as well as serve to better protect children. I wanted to highlight a few this week that would help the punishment fit the crime and also, make it easier for women and children to access services when in need.
Increase penalties for human trafficking
. Human trafficking exploits vulnerable individuals. Victims of sex and labor trafficking are made to act against their will and, in many cases, are forced or coerced into committing crimes. While New York has one of the most comprehensive anti-human trafficking laws in the country, we still need to strengthen penalties for human trafficking, and better protect minors coerced into prostitution. A bill I support (A8808) would not only increase penalties but would create an affirmative defense in prostitution crimes. This would help exonerate the defendant if he or she proves they were forced into prostitution. The bill would also make it easier for trafficking victims to receive services from agencies other than law enforcement by enabling victims to reach out to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, or the Office of Victim Services for help.
Increase penalties for stalking crimes
. With so many technological advancements, we need to update our laws to reflect our changing world. Our laws are currently silent on the use of technology involved in stalking. In 1999, the state established the crimes of stalking in the first through fourth degree.
It’s time we improve on those measures.
Stalkers continue to find new ways to harass their victims with the internet, hidden cameras and caller ID for example. Our laws need to be updated to include technology as a tool stalkers use to track their victims by passing A3288.
Protect the parental rights of domestic abuse victims
. When abuse is reported, the child(ren) is removed from his or her home. This law is designed, of course, to protect the child. Unfortunately, it often stops abuse victims from reporting domestic violence. In the case of
” whose last name is not used to protect her identity,
her husband abused her and eventually her children for years. She threatened to leave him and report his abuse. He told her that if she did so, her children would be taken away. Unfortunately, current law does not adequately protect the victims of domestic violence; children are taken away from the non-abusive parent until a determination of custody is made or a permanency hearing is held, unless the court makes an exception. A8490 would provide a safe harbor for abused parents and their