The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (S5116) is a New York State billed introduced in 2015. It would allow judges to go outside the regulated sentencing scheme and assess whether domestic abuse was a "significant contributing factor" to the alleged crime. For example, if a survivor commits a crime because a violent partner or family member abuses them, a judge can consider that a “significant contributing factor.” Another example is that if a survivor commits a crime because their abuser coerces them (threatens their life or safety, etc.), a judge can consider that a “significant contributing factor.” This would allow judges to implement shorter sentences and, in some cases, alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) programs. ATIs are court-mandated programs that fall under the authority of governmental or non-profit agencies. They operate in conjunction with the criminal justice system across New York State. The bill also permits currently incarcerated survivors, who meet the criteria, to apply for resentencing or earlier release.
Right now, the bill is stuck in committee. Attempts have been made to water down and manipulate the bill because it's seen as "weak on crime" or a "get-out-of-jail-free card." Call or write your local state senator to find out more information about the bill. Also, visit the bill's page to find all the sponsors of the DVSJA and monitor its progress.
The first version DVSJA was introduced in 2011, which differs from the current version of the bill that started in 2015. Since 2011, the language in the bill has changed and it has taken different names, bill numbers and lead sponsors that has forced the legislation back to the beginning on numerous occasions.