Bill would toughen domestic violence penalties
Most everyone has seen the videotape of now-suspended football star Ray Rice viciously attacking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in a Revel Casino elevator. Despite the brutality of the attack, Rice was allowed to enter into a Pre-Trial Intervention program to avoid jail time. Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union) said he plans to introduce a bill on Sept. 15 to enhance penalties for domestic violence offenders.
"My bill says any time that there's a case of aggravated assault as part of a domestic abuse incident, PTI will no longer be on the table," Cryan said.
The legislation was in the works long before the Rice video surfaced, Cryan said.
"You don't want to do legislation based on just one case, but when you watch the viciousness of it, she (Palmer) is clearly out cold. What you want to do is eliminate any thought that that person would have an opportunity for PTI. There should be a penalty for that action. It's aggravated assault and as a result of that you need to be able to have a judge enforce stringent penalties," Cryan said.
The bill would also make it less difficult for victims to obtain a restraining order. It would also be easier for victims of domestic assault to get treatment and education.
Cryan isn't the only lawmaker who questioned the state's PTI law after seeing the Rice video. Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-Turnersville) said the statute needs to be re-examined.
"After seeing this very graphic video of the events that had previously been reported, it's all the more puzzling as to how the county prosecutor reached a decision that Pre-Trial Intervention was the appropriate course of discipline in this case. It's confounding, actually," Mosquera said in an emailed statement.
Citing the fact that Rice is a first-time offender, the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office defended its decision to allow him entry into a PTI program. The law does not allow the decision to be overturned unless Rice violates the provisions of the PTI agreement.