PROTECTING VULNERABLE RESIDENTS
Melinda successfully led the fight to pass legislation to aid in the prosecution of child abusers, and she’s a strong advocate for seniors.
Targeted victimization of the vulnerable occurs in too many ways to count, but the District Attorney must be a leader in working with communities and constituencies to recognize, reduce and prosecute these particular kinds of crimes.
The particularly loathsome criminals that prey on seniors and children leave behind victims who need extra support, understanding and protection from the District Attorney’s Office. As an Assemblymember, Melinda successfully led the fight to pass legislation to aid in the prosecution of child abusers, and she has been a strong advocate for seniors throughout her career in public service.
Children: One unique challenge facing the next District Attorney involves the recently passed Child Victims Act, which will open the door to many old cases being resurrected as victims seek justice for past abuse. As an Assemblymember, Melinda tolled the Statute of Limitations for children to report sexual abuse. She also increased the penalty for Endangerment of the Welfare of a Child including sex offenses, to a felony with Keindl’s law. As District Attorney, Melinda will work with victims’ organizations to assist all survivors seeking justice even if years have passed since they were harmed.
As DA, Melinda will do more to protect children from falling victims to online sexual predators. As a mother of two, she knows how tough it can be for parents to keep up with all that their children are doing, so she will work with parents from all communities in Queens to develop new educational programs and tools to assist parents, run ongoing sting operations, and provide free assistance to organizations which employ people in frequent contact with children to effectively screen out potential hires who would put children at risk.
Elder Abuse and Fraud: The scourge of elder abuse, for seniors living at home and those in larger facilities, continues to cause untold pain and anguish to its victims. As District Attorney, Melinda will ensure that seniors, their families and other caregivers are provided information on identifying signs of elder abuse, as well as information on reporting suspected abuse.
Identity theft and other scams which frequently target seniors are on the rise, including real estate fraud which attempts to literally steal seniors’ homes out from under them. Education is the key to preventing these types of scams from taking place, and Melinda will also aggressively investigate and prosecute fraudsters when these scams do occur.
People with Mental Illness: Despite the frequent presentation in the media of people with mental illness as criminals, the reality is that they are far, far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators. And when people with mental illness do find them-selves rightly or wrongly accused of breaking the law, the outcome can be disastrous if the police are not prepared to understand the impact of an individual’s disability.
Partnering with family members and advocates, Melinda will work with law enforcement to develop proper strategies for effectively identifying and dealing with individuals with mental illness without resorting to lethal force and addressing the specific challenges that people with mental illness face when they are victims of crime.
When a person with mental illness is accused of a crime, it demands specific protocols within the District Attorney’s office, working with advocates and mental health professionals to determine the appropriate course of action from a prosecutorial and/or treatment perspective.
As District Attorney, Melinda will also be a strong advocate for mental health services in our prisons. Too many people are released from jail without adequate care to respond to their mental health needs. Treatment needs to be a systematic and coordinated plan to assure the best for the individual upon release.
Immigrants: Beyond wage theft mentioned above, many immigrants – whether documented or undocumented – are targeted for crimes ranging from green card scams, real estate fraud, sex trafficking, violent crimes and domestic abuse. Often, the victim is fearful of talking to police or the District Attorney due to their immigration status.
Melinda knows that all people in our country are entitled to the full protection of the law, regardless of immigration status. She will create an Immigrant Justice Unit with-in the District Attorney’s office to work with immigrant communities to develop best practices models to encourage all victims to come forward while also providing sanctuary and protect them from the overreach of the current administration in Washington.
LGBTQ: While our country has made positive strides toward greater equality, much of that progress is being threatened by the Trump administration and its allies, and civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community will fall to District Attorneys and Attorneys General across the country.
In fact, Melinda cosponsored legislation 25 years ago to include sexual orientation in the protected class for the State of New York. She also fought for the hate crimes legislation to increase penalties for those that commit crimes against the community. With Melinda’s long history for support for LGBTQ equality, she will convene a LGBTQ Rights Advisory Board to address specific concerns of the LGBTQ community, including bullying, threats and employment or housing discrimination.