Wednesday, April 12, 2006

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) was in Kingston yesterday to discuss a bill that will federally fund local witness protection programs, that will help fight violence and intimidation of victims and witnesses of Domestic crimes. The Senator stood on the steps of the Ulster County court house with Ulster County D.A. Don Williams to talk about the "Short Term Witness Protection plan Of 06." The $90 million program in which New York state would receive $6.5 million, and counties would receive a share in proportion to their populations: Ulster County would receive $65,000 annually, under the plan. "You come to Ulster County and think of the beautiful riverfront, mountains, lively villages and good schools, but the urban problem of gang violence is spreading," said Schumer, who is sponsoring the legislation. When reached for comment Mr. Blaber said: I commend our Senator for sponsoring this, witness intimidation is a problem and witnesses will not testify if they feel there safety is in question, it happens all the time and without there testimony sometimes the case will be thrown out, putting these violent offenders back on the streets. Senator Schumer also pointed out the benefit of doing this type of legislation on a federal vs. on a local level, what would be a relatively small amount of money on a federal level can make a big difference on a local level. With "skyrocketing" property tax rates, he said, local taxpayers cannot afford the burden of such a program being funded on the local level.

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