Assembly Passes the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced the Assembly passed the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (A.3974, Aubry). The legislation would expand on alternative sentencing laws for domestic violence cases.

“Domestic violence is a heart breaking reality for far too many in New York State,” Speaker Heastie said. “The Assembly Majority is committed to ensuring that survivors have the tools and resources to put their lives back together. Today’s bill will ensure that they are treated with compassion and fairness within our justice system.”

“We need to offer survivors of domestic violence support and the ability to rebuild their lives,” Codes Committee Chair Joseph R. Lentol said. “Today’s bill will make sure survivors of domestic violence receive fair treatment in our courts, and help them and their families recover from the trauma they experienced.”

“Survivors of domestic violence need every measure of support we can afford them in order to reclaim their lives and move on from the trauma of abuse,” Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry said. “I am proud that my legislation will help balance our justice system for survivors.”

New York State’s current sentencing structure does not allow judges discretion to fully consider the impact of domestic violence when determining sentence lengths. The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act would allow judges to sentence survivors of domestic violence to an alternative sentence of imprisonment, including community-based alternative to incarceration programs. The bill would also provide domestic violence survivors currently in prison the ability to apply for resentencing, granting relief to incarcerated individuals who pose no threat to public safety.

When a domestic violence survivor defends themselves or their children, too often, the criminal justice system responds with harsh punishment. But domestic violence and women’s incarceration are inextricably linked – 75 percent of women had suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner during adulthood, and 93 percent of women convicted of killing an intimate partner were abused by an intimate partner in the past.

Community –based alternative programs allows survivors to rebuild relationships with their families, recover from abuse and take responsibility while participating in their communities.