The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (S5116) is a New York State billed introduced in 2015. First, it would allow judges to go outside the regulated sentencing scheme and assess whether domestic abuse was directly related to the alleged crime. This would allow judges to implement shorter sentences and, in some cases, alternatives to incarceration programs. Second, it would allow judges the opportunity to resentence currently incarcerated persons for offenses in which certain domestic violence criteria was a significant element of the offense.
This bill is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
If the DVSJA bill passes, it’s proven that New York will reap significant savings every year. In New York, it costs up to $96,000 per year to send one adult to jail, but sentencing to an alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) program would cost $18,000, according to a report from NYC ATI/Reentry Coalition Services. Additionally, the two-year recidivism rate of ATI graduates is less than 20 percent, far lower than the 42 percent recidivism rate of those released from incarceration.
Right now, the bill is stuck in committee. Attempts have been made to water down and manipulate it because it's seen as "weak on crime." Survivors are rarely believed and it sends a negative message to survivors that if they strike back against their abuser, they will be punished. It's long-past time to end the stigmatization of domestic violence survivors. Call or write your local state senator to make sure they are helping push this legislation forward.
No more silence.
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