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Higher bail back on the table in NY? This is an old issue, recall "Linda's Law".

Posted Jun 18 2011 8:09am
In 2008, after the death of Isol Cotto, Kristina Cotto and I started urging lawmakers like Ken Zebrowski to push for higher bail for abusers. Isol's abuser bailed himself out with a credit card for a couple of hundred dollars and then murdered his wife in the middle of the night. This was a shame. Several years later, the pattern repeats itself in the case of Linda Ricardulli in Hyde Park, NY. Low bail, abuser gets out of jail easily, goes back to the home to kill his victim. This is common sense, higher bail for abusers. We proposed "Linda's Law" last year and held a press conference, which no one from the Citizens Advisory Committee in Dutchess County attended. ,/

We spoke out with the Ricardulli family, and not one DV advocate/GOP member was there to give their support. We have since tried to get lawmakers to introduce our bill for high bail for abusers, and it was thrown out. Now Dutchess County GOP and the Advisory Committee seemed to have picked up on our idea and have support:

The Poughkeepsie Journal

Roy Brown, chairman of Columbia County's Board of Supervisors, traveled to Poughkeepsie on Friday to learn how police, prosecutors and crime victim advocates in Dutchess County are working together to combat domestic violence.

At the end of the two-hour conference hosted by Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison, Brown said he was glad he made the trip.

"Dutchess County is well known around the region for its comprehensive approach to domestic violence issues, and I wanted to get a sense of what they do here and how they do it," he said.

Rolison said he hoped to get Brown and other officials from neighboring counties involved in lobbying state lawmakers on pending legislation that would permit judges to consider a defendant's history of domestic violence when considering bail following an arrest. And he said he planned to keep officials from other counties informed as Dutchess launches the testing of Global Positioning System equipment that may be used to help police and victims of domestic violence keep track of those accused of such crimes.

"Some people worry (a GPS tracking system) may offer a false sense of security, and it's certainly not a bulletproof vest," Rolison said. "But if there's something out there that can work, we want to make others aware of it."

The tracking of defendants through GPS devices was one of several recommendations contained in a report released last fall by the Legislature's Citizens Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence. The committee held hearings and issued the report after Hyde Park resident Anthony Riccardulli fatally shot his wife and then killed himself on July 29, 2010. Since then, three other women have been killed by their husbands or boyfriends in the county.

On Sept. 4, 2010, Maria De la Paz Ruiz-Alvarez was allegedly stabbed to death by her boyfriend in Wappingers Falls; Tyrese Storms, who was several months pregnant, was found dead on Dec. 3, 2010, in Pleasant Valley after her boyfriend, Robert Loucks, allegedly strangled her; and on Feb. 18, Jessica Welch was fatally shot by her husband, Lee Welch, who then shot and killed Detective John Falcone in the City of Poughkeepsie.

Leah Feldman, the county's universal response coordinator for domestic violence, told people at Friday's conference that she believed the county was addressing the concerns raised by the legislative committee.

"The report isn't just sitting on some shelf somewhere," Feldman said.

Dutchess County Legislator Kenneth Roman, R-Town of Poughkeepsie , a town police lieutenant who heads the Legislature's public safety committee, said police officers are still skeptical about new procedures they are being asked to follow when responding to domestic incidents. But Roman added he was convinced the county's system of coordinating services provided by police, prosecutors and victim advocates was paying off.

"It's easy to count the failures," Roman said, alluding to the four recent homicides, "but there's no way to assess how many lives we've saved because of the way we've intervened."

Others attending the conference included Amanda Thomas, a crime victim advocate at the Reach Center in Catskill, Greene County; Marjorie Smith, chief of the special victims unit of the Dutchess County District Attorney's Office ; Ulster County Legislator Paul Hansut, R-Lloyd; Kathy Graham, director of Dutchess County Battered Women's Services; Sue West, executive director of Family Services Inc.; and Judy Lombardi, director of outreach and support at Grace Smith House, a shelter for domestic violence victims.
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