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The Daily Freeman: Killings in Poughkeepsie spur call for tougher domestic violence laws

Posted Feb 24 2011 12:00am
In my opinion, Dutchess County is NOT a model county for domestic violence response. I haven't seen a county in NYS that could be considered a "model". Needless to say, I disagree with Leah Feldman's statements below. Just earlier this month, I was helping a victim in serious danger relocate and find shelter in Dutchess County. The Grace Smith House and every other shelter in Dutchess turned this woman away. No space. Therefore, in my opinion, this county is not a model for domestic violence response when the most basic need cannot be met for a victim. It has been almost one year since I started pressuring the county and State of NY to introduce my domestic violence legislation after the death of Linda Riccardulli. The result: The Citizen's Advisory Committee produced a handbook of resolutions using my solutions as a model and we are all still waiting for action.

Addressing Leah Feldman's comment about the services available to victims...Yes, there are services available, but the question is "Are those services working and who is not getting help?".

By Mid-Hudson News Network
and Freeman staff

POUGHKEEPSIE — An advocate for tougher domestic violence laws says the deaths on Friday of three people, including a Poughkeepsie police officer, point to the need for reform.

“Victims need services, they need organizations and shelters that will provide them safety plans, they need basic services, pro-bono legal services for divorce, they need assistance in domestic violence courts, which we don’t currently have in Dutchess County,” said Maria DiBari, herself a domestic violence survivor.

DiBari was speaking in the wake of Catskill resident Lee Welch killing his wife, Jessica, Poughkeepsie Police Officer John Falcone and himself on Friday, all with gunshots.

In calling for tougher laws, DiBari noted that Lee Welch was allowed to get out jail on just $1,000 bail after assaulting his wife last month, only be arrested and jailed again three days later — and be freed again, this time on $20,000 bond.

After Linda Riccardulli of Hyde Park was killed by her estranged husband last year, DiBari proposed Linda’s Law, which would have toughened domestic violence laws and provided more protections for victims. But “not one Assembly member has responded” to DiBari’s call, she said.

Leah Feldman, project coordinator for Dutchess County’s Universal Response to Domestic Violence, noted that Dutchess County has a number of services available to assist victims of domestic violence.

“Dutchess County is a model county around the state with domestic violence response,” Feldman said on Tuesday. Among the services provided, she said, are shelter accommodations through the Grace Smith House and House of Hope and services and programs offered through Battered Women’s Services and the Crime Victims Assistance Program.

Additionally, Feldman said, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office has four outreach workers assigned to assist victims of crimes involving domestic violence, as well as a Special Victims Unit that handles the prosecution of all domestic violence-related crimes.

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