NEW YORK—Assemblyman Felix Ortiz was joined by the family members of Erika Delia on the steps of City Hall on Sunday, to push for his legislation to require any person with an order of protection issued against them to wear a tracking device, Ortiz is calling it the Erika Bill.
In 2007, Erika Delia was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who she had a restraining order on, and recently a woman in Flushing, Qian Wu, was murdered by Huang Chen, a man who she had multiple restraining orders against.
“I want to strengthen the law so that unfortunate cases like these will not happen again, and my legislation can accomplish this,” Ortiz said.
Under the Erika Bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lanza, any individual with an order of protection issued against them, due to domestic violence, would have to wear an electronic monitoring GPS device around their ankle. Ortiz says the tracking devices would be monitored by a special corporation with access to the database and network of the GPS. Right now, a few counties in Queens and Brooklyn have put into play a pilot program for this device.
“Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects the home and family as well as our state and nation,” Ortiz said. “Every year women experience 4.8 million cases of intimate partner-related assault and rape. That means every 15 seconds an instance of domestic violence occurs.”
According to reports by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 2006, over 50,000 cases of domestic violence in New York were reported; 28 children and 53 women were murdered in acts of domestic violence.
“How many more cases, how many more statistics do we have to add to get this done?” Ortiz asked.
Ortiz had proposed this bill in 2007 and has been pushing for it ever since. It has passed twice in the Senate, but was held by the Assembly both times.
“Not only will my legislation save lives, but it will also save our state money,” Ortiz said. “The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, and $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. We can help reduce these tremendous costs by simply preventing the violence from occurring. My legislation not only reduces cost but most important creates a safer living environment for families and homes throughout our state.”
Ortiz said the message he wanted to get across was that victims of domestic violence should feel able to come forward, get help, and report these cases.
Dolores Maddis, Erika Delia’s aunt, has supported the bill for years as well.
“I am advocating life,” she said. “I just want people to live and the orders of protection are not doing the job. Get rid of the pieces of paper and put the GPS’s on.”
Delia’s sisters Gina Nettuno and Pamela Moran were present in support of the bill as well.
“My younger sister Erika was murdered in 2007. She was on her way to getting her Masters, she just turned 27 years old, she had an order of protection against her ex-boyfriend and well, needless to say, he still got to her,” Nettuno said. “It’s just a piece of paper. Women should feel safe in their own homes, in their work places; they shouldn’t have to worry about locking and bolting up doors and worrying if they’re going to wake up the next morning. This bill, Erika’s Bill, is going to help so many more women in the future. It’s not going to bring my sister back, but how many more people have to die? It’s just ridiculous. It’s time. It needs to be done.”