COLUMN: Violent felony offender registry would save lives

— I am a sponsor of legislation that would create a violent felon registry, similar to the sex offender registry. This registry would enable the public to better protect itself against heinous crimes that cannot be undone.

The bill, "Brittany's Law" was drafted after a woman and her daughter were brutally murdered in Geneva by a parolee. Six years earlier, the offender had assaulted his infant daughter. Surviving family members believe their daughter and granddaughter would still be alive today if there was such a registry already in place.

According to the bill, many other states have some type of a violent felony offender registry. Unfortunately, New York is not among those states yet that have taken steps to track the whereabouts of violent felony offenders who, as research indicates, are likely to repeat violent crimes. The bill would establish a registry similar to how the sex offender registry already works. Violent offenders would have to register with local law enforcement upon entering into the community and follow certain guidelines to keep address information current.

The man charged in the brutal attack was out on parole and had a lengthy history of arrests including assault with a hammer. John Edward Brown, a parolee, was released from prison after serving only 2 1/2 years of a 3-year sentence for violently assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. He murdered Kelen Buchol and her daughter, Brittany Passalacque, in Geneva in 2009. These are just two examples of how the early parole of a dangerous criminal has led to tragedy. In the wake of these and other violent attacks, it is clear we must increase our efforts to further protect our citizenry.

'Guilty, but mentally ill'

Another case in Oneida County also merits our laws be changed to better protect the public. A defendant, David Trebilock, was recently found "guilty" but "not responsible due to mental disease or defect" for stabbing and killing 6-year-old Lauren Belius. The family is petitioning to change this law to give the courts the option to sentence the defendant as "guilty, but mentally ill." This sentence would carry with it a period of confinement in a mental hygiene facility, equal to the sentence of imprisonment. There is currently legislation in the Senate that proposes to create such a sentence.

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