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Politics and Government

Katko bill would review pretrial release, electronic monitoring across U.S.

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Tom Magnarelli
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WRVO Public Media File Photo
Bill Cregg, center, talks about Katko's bill.

Six years after a brutal murder and rape in central New York, by a man who was on pretrial release, Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is introducing a bill to review the pretrial release system across the country. It would focus on the monitoring practices for those on pretrial release. 

In 2013, Bill Cregg, an army veteran, came to the aid of Lori Bresnahan and her 10-year-old daughter, who were abducted in the parking lot of the Great Northern Mall in Clay.

“It was a cold night," Cregg said. "About six-foot into the wood line, there was a young girl running. Another couple hundred yards, there was a car off to the side of the road.”

Bresnahan was stabbed and killed, and her daughter raped, by David Renz, who was on pretrial release for child pornography charges. He had disassembled his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, and had previously set off 46 alerts, which were not responded to by probation officers.

Cregg stayed and comforted Bresnahan in her final moments. Since then, he has become an advocate for exposing electronic monitoring deficiencies, parole officer burnout and the failures of pretrial release programs and probation. He said Congressman Katko's legislation addresses those issues.

“If this legislation existed six years ago, Lori Bresnahan would still be alive, in our communities, teaching our children," Cregg said.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, would direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review pretrial release. Katko said it would also examine the effectiveness of electronic monitoring.

“We already know there are many instances where the system has failed,” Katko said. “How can we make it better? We’re going to get the statistics, we’re going to get the recommendations and figure out what we need to do to make it better. It’s probably going to have some follow-up legislation and a lot of follow-up guidance and hearings that we’re going to have, to make sure this works.”

Cregg said since 2013, there have been 60 additional murders across the country committed by individuals wearing electronic monitors.