Bill would give judges more discretion when sentencing domestic violence survivors

Advocates for women in prison are pushing for passage of a bill that would allow judges to use their discretion when sentencing survivors of domestic violence for crimes they commit as a result of their abuse.

The Correctional Association of New York and the Coalition for Women in Prison were in Albany on June 5 to lobby the state Legislature to enact the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (A.4314-b/S.3337-b) sponsored by Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon, and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, D-Corona.

The bill would allow judges to sentence domestic violence survivors convicted of crimes directly related to the abuse they suffered to shorter prison terms or community-based alternative-to-incarceration programs, and would allow currently incarcerated survivors to apply to the courts to be resentenced and to come home earlier.

Supporters of the bill say domestic violence and women’s incarceration are inextricably linked: nine of 10 incarcerated women have experienced severe physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, eight of 10 experienced serious physical or sexual violence during childhood; 75 percent suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner during adulthood; and 37 percent were raped before their incarceration. Ninety-three percent of women convicted of killing an intimate partner were abused by an intimate partner in the past.  Read more of this article in The Legislative Gazette.

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