May 20, 2019
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) applauds Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (S.1077/ A.3974), a bill that codifies more meaningful sentence reductions for domestic abuse survivors in the criminal justice system and a key initiative in the Governor’s 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda.
Current law allows judges to administer indeterminate sentences for domestic violence survivors who have committed a crime only in relation to their abuser under certain circumstances. The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act will build upon this law by adding offenses committed due to coercion by an abuser, as well as offenses committed against or at the behest of an abuser who does not share a household or family with the survivor. This new law advances the fair and equal administration of justice – one of the key principles of WBASNY’s mission — by preventing further victimization of individuals who have endured domestic and sexual violence at the hands of their abusers.
“The vast majority of incarcerated women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, and too often these women wind up in prison in the first place because they’re protecting themselves from an abuser,” Governor Cuomo said. “By signing this critical piece of our 2019 women’s justice agenda, we can help ensure the criminal justice system takes into account that reality and empowers vulnerable New Yorkers rather than just putting them behind bars.”
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said: “My mother dedicated her life to helping survivors of domestic violence, and her work has inspired me during my time in public service. This new law is a significant reform to our criminal justice system and will ensure survivors are not subjected to harsh punishment for defending themselves from abuse. With the enactment of another essential component of our Women’s Justice Agenda, New York continues to lead the way to protect the most vulnerable and strengthen our society.”