Maffei Renews Call to End Sequester to Prevent Future Cases Like David Renz

Press Release

By:  Dan Maffei
Date: June 18, 2013
Location: Unknown

Today, Representative Dan Maffei (D-NY) renewed his call to end the automatic spending cuts that took effect earlier this year as a result of sequestration in light of the David Renz case. In response to Maffei's May 14th request to investigate the Syracuse federal probation office and its apparent failure to monitor David Renz, the Administrative Office of the United State Courts (AO) said that probation office staff has been fired, however, a significant shortage of funding and personnel due to the sequester are inhibiting efforts to investigate the case and prevent future incidents. The AO, which has oversight over the Syracuse federal probation office, said in a letter sent to Maffei Monday that reduced resources due to sequestration are harming the efforts to make changes to prevent a similar cases from happening in the future. Maffei delivered a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives Monday night urging his colleagues to end the sequester and prevent a case like David Renz from ever happening again. Click here to view the video.

"What happened to the young child and Ms. Bresnahan is a terrible tragedy. We need to make sure that the courts have every resource necessary to get to the bottom of this and make sure that it never happens again." said Rep. Dan Maffei. "The answer from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts is that their ability to prevent a tragedy like this from happening in the future is limited because their funding was cut due to the sequester. This is unacceptable. We owe Laurie Bresnahan and her family a guarantee that this cannot happen again and we need to end sequester cuts which are hurting our federal probation system. I have fought, and will continue to fight the sequester because Central New York can't afford to have another David Renz out in the community."

The AO's Director, Honorable Thomas F. Hogan said in a response letter to Maffei that Syracuse probation office staff has been fired, stating that it made changes to the office including "dismissing and demoting certain probation office personnel."

However, the AO said its efforts to prevent future cases like David Renz are limited by funding cuts due to sequestration saying they "will need to work within available funding," and that, "Funding for salaries and operations in the probation and pretrial services system has been reduced 14 percent this fiscal year, and resources for location monitoring, mental health and substance abuse treatment have been cut 20 percent."

The AO warned of the negative impact of future cuts stating, "We are bracing for even larger reductions next year," and said that it is severely understaffed, "the vacancy rate in probation and pretrial services offices now stands at 25 percent."

On May 14, 2013 Maffei wrote a letter to the Administrative Office for the United States Courts which has oversight over the Syracuse U.S. Probation Office for the Northern District of New York, asking them to investigate the office and its failure to properly monitor David Renz. Maffei sent similar letters to the Judicial Conference of the United States and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.