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NY bill would open up records of youthful offenders to correctional staff, potential foster parents

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A bill currently sits on the Senate floor that would make child and family services records of youthful offenders open to correctional staff and potential foster parents.

Renee’s law is named after Renee Greco, a 24-year-old youth care worker that was beaten to death in 2009 by two teenagers she was watching over.

Had she known their background, some argue she might be alive today.

A local attorney says the issues of records is something he deals with on a daily basis and says Renee’s law could have quite the impact across New York state.

“In my years of practice, I have seen some inconsistencies of how different facilities handle different situations,” Mario Cometti, Partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC, said.

Cometti has access to some youth offender records. Under current law, he says staff members working in facilities don’t have the same access, especially when it comes to violent crimes.

“It’s a confidentiality issue.”

Cometti says the issue of privacy versus safety is concerning, considering it’s not uncommon for youthful offenders to from one facility to another.

Renee’s Law would open up access to offender records for staff, potential foster parents, and lawyers, but most of all Cometti says, it would offer more training for employees.

“I think this black and white rule saying if you think something is amiss it’s a safety risk. We’ve got to take care of it and that’s ultimately good for everybody.”

“It’s very important that people who are in those facilities know the background of the youth that are there for the protection of themselves and the protection of other youths,” Senator Kathy Marchione said.

Co-sponsor Sen. Marchione would also like to see facilities keep records of behavior while inside detention centers, but says Renee’s Law is a good first step.

The Assembly version of Renee’s Law is currently in a committee and has not made it to the floor for a vote.

Both houses have to agree to the bill before the Governor Andrew Cuomo would be able to sign it into law.

 

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