Sen. Ritchie aims to keep youth out of harms way
Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:03 pm

To the Editor,

As a mother, most of my life has been spent keeping my kids safe. Now that I’m a grandmother, I’m in that same role—wanting to keep the young people I love out of harm’s way.

Last week an important piece of legislation passed in the Senate that would do just that.

The bill was a response to a ruling by the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, that said viewing pornographic images of children as young as 8 years-old over the Internet was allowed, as long as the person viewing it didn’t print, download, share, save or “control” the images in some other way.

The ruling involved a 65-year-old man who was found with 30,000 cached images on his computer of children in sexual situations. The court dismissed criminal charges filed against him because he had only viewed the material online.

In the wake of the ruling, I said that I agreed with dissenting Judge Victoria Graffeo who said that permitting viewing of child pornography would expand the market for this vile filth, and cause more children to become victims.

My bill would close this glaring loophole by making viewing of child pornography—which has been illegal to possess since 1996—a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

This week, I will be taking another step to protect the innocent from senseless crimes.

About a year ago, I introduced “Mark’s Law,” a bill to increase the penalty for killing emergency first responders.

My bill was introduced in memory of Mark Davis, the emergency medical technician shot to death while responding to a call for help in Cape Vincent in 2009.

The bill amends the Penal Law to make it First Degree Murder to kill emergency responders, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, volunteer firefighters, ambulance drivers, paramedics, physicians or nurses involved in a first response team.

The law would add these people to a list that now includes police officers, peace officers, uniformed court officers, parole officers, probation officers, employees of the division of youth and corrections officers.

Being an emergency responder isn’t like any normal job. Most of the time, when these people go to work, they’re entering dangerous situations, and many times, are putting their lives on the line.

That’s why we need to do everything possible to protect the people who protect us. Mark’s Law is a step in the right direction when it comes to achieving that goal.

As your Senator, I look forward to continuing to work to cut down on crime, protect the innocent and make our state a safer place to live.

Sen. Patricia Ritchie