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Senate Passes Bills to Crack Down on Predators, Graffiti Vandals

Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Tony Avella also raises penalties for sexual abuse, endangering the welfare of a child.

The state Senate has passed eight bills co-sponsored by Tony Avella, D-Bayside, that strengthen existing laws involving child abduction, graffiti and sexual abuse.

Avella said a majority of the bills were aimed at protecting children.

“My Senate colleagues and I continue to take steps forward in the never-ending fight to protect New York’s youth,” he said. “We are working to have more of our children included in laws that will protect them from dangerous situations and out of the hands of people who wish to do them harm.”

One bill would suspend a junior license if the driver has been convicted of driving outside the permissible time range or has more than one passenger under the age of 21. Under the bill, a license could be suspended for 90 days for the first violation and up to one year for the second offense.

Other bills target predators, including one that makes the abduction of a person age 16 years or below into an A1 felony, which would result in a mandatory prison sentence of at least 15 years, and others that would raise the penalties for sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child from misdemeanors to felonies.

The legislation passed by the Senate would also allow for a vulnerable child to testify by closed circuit television in criminal cases involving assault, endangering the welfare of a child or murder.

The bills would also allow law enforcement officials to charge predators with aggravated assault crimes during instances in which victims were ages 13 and below.

Avella also co-sponsored a bill that would require penalties for graffiti convictions to include graffiti removal.

“Graffiti continues to plague our neighborhoods and communities,” the senator said. “Forcing those who have been found guilty of graffiti vandalism to remove graffiti will serve both as a lesson to vandals of the damage graffiti can generate within a community as well as help eliminate graffiti.”

Jerry Iannece, chairman of Community Board 11, said he has been advocating for years that persons convicted for graffiti-related crimes should be forced to clean up communities they vandalized.

“I support it 100 percent,” he said of the senator’s legislation. “Often, the district attorney’s offices have not had the wherewithal to mandate that, so they end up giving people a slap on the wrist. But I think it should be a requirement.”

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