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Crime victims office approved in Nassau

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello during

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello during a meeting on Monday in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Nassau County Legislature voted Monday to establish an Office of Crime Victim Advocate to help victims and witnesses of violent crimes, and also help them navigate justice reforms that will take effect statewide in January.

The statewide initiatives include elimination of cash bail for most defendants and requirements that prosecutors to share information earlier in the discovery process. 

The victim's advocate office will have a budget of $890,000 a year.

Majority Republican lawmakers included the money in an amendment to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's 2020 budget. The legislature approved the $3.11 billion budget last month and the county's fiscal control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, approved the budget last Thursday.

"Right now, there's no one speaking for victims of crimes," said Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park). "This creates an office that will allow resources to flow toward victims so they can have a voice in this process."

Republicans have included nearly $2.8 million to add 20 positions to the district attorney's office and 30 to the probation department, to help deal with the criminal justice reforms.

Curran, in a prepared statement Monday evening, said: "Earlier this year, I directed County agencies to prepare for the safe and orderly transition to the new criminal justice procedures. ... Ahead of January 1st, we have stepped up staffing at the District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Probation in order to ensure victims of crimes are fully protected and to manage pre-trial services. The County has also invested in critical new technology that will facilitate the production of discovery."

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