The New York State Senate passed on Tuesday a bill sponsored by East New York Senator Roxanne J. Persaud to reduce prison sentences for domestic violence survivors who committed their crime in self-defense.
With the passage of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, judges are now allowed to sentence victims of domestic violence to lesser prison time, if the defendant was influenced by his or her abuse at the time of the offense. The act also gives judges the option to impose community-based programs as an alternative to incarceration and gives eligible, currently imprisoned survivors the opportunity to apply for re-sentencing.
“It is due time that the criminal justice system stops harshly punishing survivors of domestic violence for defending themselves or their children,” said Sen. Persaud, who represents the 19th NY State Senate District including East New York, Brownsville, Ocean Hill and Starrett City. “These victims do not deserve further mistreatment with years of prison time. Alternative community-based sentences prove far more effective in positive recovery and keeping families together.”
Persaud stated that beyond relieving countless wrongfully incarcerated men and women — nine out of ten of who have been physically or sexually abused, and who usually have no prior criminal records or history of violence, — the new legislation will also save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars every year. It costs about $43,000 annually to incarcerate a person in state prison, while the alternative, community-based programs, amount to around $11,000, she added.
“The Domestic Violence Survivor’s Justice Act corrects the contradictory injustice victims in New York face, and gives second chances to those already wronged by the very system designed to help protect them,” Persaud said.