2008-08-01 / Community

Paterson Signs New Laws To Protect Kids, Teens

Governor David A. Paterson has signed a package of bills, many of which are focused on public safety and protecting the rights of New York residents. Among the more than three dozen bills signed into law by Governor Paterson, some will enhance protections for children and adults in residential care, revoke teaching certificates for educators who are convicted of sex crimes, and ensure the State will explore the negative effects of violent video games. "We have the obligation to be constantly vigilant about amending our laws to protect the residents of New York State. Many of these bills will do just that by closing loopholes or creating new laws to enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers," said Governor Paterson. "The first duty of government is to provide a safe society for our residents to live, work and raise their families. These new laws will enhance the protections afforded to the citizens of this state and will address gaps in protection that have existed for years. I applaud the Legislature for working with me and my staff to reach agreements on fixing these problems." Governor Paterson has also signed a new law (S.8665 / A.11707), which will expand access to Civil Orders of Protection, allowing a person who is or was in an intimate relationship with an abuser- even though not related to that person- to seek an order of protection in family court. This substantially expands protections for victims who, for a variety of reasons, may be unwilling to press charges in criminal court.

Another specific package of reforms - consisting of four bills - will represent a significant improvement for adults and children who live away from their families in residential care, particularly in mental hygiene facilities.

The package includes: enhancing the standards used to determine if child abuse or neglect has occurred in residential facilities (S.8534-A / A.11753); extending the time period for retroactive requests for information under Jonathan's Law (S.8389-A / A.10897- A); prohibiting the withholding of food or hydration from residents of mental hygiene facilities (S.8551-A / A.11482- A); and making recommendations as to appropriate work hours for direct care employees in mental hygiene facilities (S.8679-A / A.11757). Two other bills signed by Governor Paterson are directly aimed at protecting children: A.11500-A / S.8553 automatically revokes the teaching license of any school official who is convicted of a sex offense; A.11717 / S.6401-A establishes an advisory council to conduct a study on the connection between interactive media and reallife violence by minors exposed to such media. This bill will also require new video game consoles to have parental lockout features by 2010, and mandate that games sold at retail disclose the ratings obtained from the gaming industry's voluntary rating system.

In addition to these bills, Governor Paterson signed another 31 bills relating to criminal justice and the judiciary, as well as education issues and business and finance.

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