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Getting Tough on Domestic Violence

There is irony in the fact that state Sen. Frank Padavan introduced legislation in the Senate protecting the victims of domestic violence in the same week the Senate found the courage to expel Sen. Hiram Monserrate.

Monserrate was convicted last year on a charge of misdemeanor assault. He was found not guilty of the more serious felony charge.

Hiram’s girlfriend, who first told police the senator intentionally slashed her face with a broken glass, changed her story later. She now says it was an accident. Not all victims of domestic violence live to tell their story, let alone change it.

Padavan, with Sens. Marty Golden and Andrew Lanza, came up with the bill in the wake of a Flushing murder Jan. 26. Huang Chen, a stalker who had been following her for weeks, has been charged with murdering Qian Wu.She had obtained an order of protection against Chen in 2006.

In a statement, Padavan said, “Women in New York state deserve to know that they are being protected under our criminal justice system. ... We need to strengthen the state’s order of protection laws to ensure that women are actually protected.”

Padavan’s bill would mandate jail time for individuals who violate an order of protection more than once. It would also require convicted stalkers to wear electronic bracelets with GPS capability. Using this system, it is possible for prosecutors and police to know if a stalker comes within a certain distance of a victim’s home or even the victim herself.

But the police have to closely monitor the bracelets and respond quickly whenever an alarm goes off. That requires manpower ready to respond to even false alarms. That does not come cheap. And it will not be effective if the victim wants to take the side of the abuser.

The fact that increasing safeguards for the victims of domestic violence is expensive is not an excuse for not doing it.

As Lanza said, “Women seeking an order of protection against an abuser should feel confident that everything is being done to keep them safe. We need to tighten up the law by preventing repeat abusers from having access to their victims and punish them if they try to violate an order of protection.”

We agree.

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