Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and District Attorney Charles Hynes joined law enforcement representatives Thursday morning to introduce a bill in Albany that will help spread the word about the Child Abandonment Act, a 10-year-old law intended to give young women a safe way to surrender their unwanted newborn babies.
Concerns about a lack of knowledge of the act among at-risk teens came to the forefront this week after the Sunday arrest of 18-year-old Laquasia Wright, in her building at Whitman Houses in Fort Greene.
"No matter how good a law is, if isn't helping the [population] it's targeting, it's a bad law," said state Sen. Eric Adams.
The baby survived the incident and is in stable condition at Brooklyn Hospital.
D.A. Hynes said at the press conference held at his office in downtown Brooklyn that he believed Wright was not aware of the law.
"She was afraid her mother was going to beat her," Hynes said.
Charged with attempted murder and endangering the welfare of a child, Wright currently is in jail with a bail set at $100,000. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Friday.
Jeffries emphasized the importance of getting the word out about the option for teens to turn in their babies safely at police stations, firehouses and hospitals, no questions asked.
"There is no distressed mother that should ever conclude that her only option is to drop her baby into a trash chute," Jeffries said.
Though elected officials like Jeffries and Adams highlighted the lack of knowledge about the Child Abandonment Act, especially among economically disadvantaged young people, Hynes was quick to point out figures that showed the law was working as designed.
According to Hynes, 150 babies have been saved statewide because of the legislation. Of that number, 21 have been in Brooklyn.
When the law was enacted in 2000, the state was averaging 15-16 abandoned infant fatalities each year, Hynes said. Last year, that number fell to one.
Adams, a former police officer, pledged to get the word out about the law to more teens, employing social media sites to spread the message.
The senator also planned to get Hollywood involved to shoot a YouTube video on child abandonment issues with the help of Ralph McDaniel of Video Music Box.
Adams wouldn't reveal the celebrities who have signed on so far, but promised it would be a great opportunity to spread the word to at-risk teens in places like Whitman Houses.
"I think this will really grab their attention, because kids like the ones we're trying to get at," said Adams of the celebrities who will participate in the video. "They don't read the New York Times or Channel 7 news."
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