The death of nine-year-old Leiby Kletzky has led to a spurt ofnew legislative proposals and initiatives to increase childprotection.
State Senator Martin Golden has renewed his call for legislationto make the intentional murder of a child less than 12 years of agea first-degree offense. The bill would also amend the definition oftorture making it the intentional and depraved infliction ofextreme physical pain.
Under existing law, the highest charge for killing a child issecond-degree murder. The maximum penalty for second-degree murderis 25 years to life in prison.
No crime scene is as gut-wrenching as one that involves themurder of a child. By passing this legislation, we would be sendinga swift, severe and certain message to those who would prey on ourchildren, said Senator Golden.
In addition, Assemblymembers Dov Hikind and Peter Abbate andState Senator Diane Savino have teamed up on legislation whose goalis more immediate response in reuniting a missing child with his orher family.
The legislation, entitled The Leiby Initiative, would grant a$500 annual tax credit to New York City property owners whopurchase, install and maintain surveillance cameras around theirproperty.
This legislation could literally save lives, said Hikind. Ifthere had been even more cameras along the route that Leiby tookwhen he got lost on his way home from day camp, perhaps we mighthave been able to find him sooner.
Also, Councilmember David Greenfield has introduced Leiby’sLaw, which – if passed — would provide lost children with saferways to get help by creating a citywide Safe Haven program, wherebypre-screened businesses whose employees pass certain backgroundchecks would be given a bright green sticker identifying them asSafe Havens. Children will be able to go to these businesses ifthey need help of any sort.
Residents of New York City need peace of mind. Leiby’s Lawwould provide a better option for children than simply askingstrangers for directions, said Greenfield, who said the goal wasto have a Safe Haven on every block in the city.
Currently, a Safe Haven program developed by the NYPD has beenimplemented in Brooklyn by District Attorney Charles Hynes; thereare approximately 1,000 Safe Havens across the borough, accordingto Hynes’ office.
Child abuse has risen by 20 percent in New York State since2000. Approximately 80,000 children are victims of abuse or neglecteach year in New York State with 33,000 cases in New York City and6,000 cases in Brooklyn.
This is the time for New York State to stand up for allchildren and families so that tragedies such as this never happenagain… We need to act together…to protect our most preciousresource, our young people, said Golden.