The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act: Learning From NY's New Law to Challenge the Incarceration of Survivors
Created on January 21, 2020
Violence and trauma form the foundation of many women's pathways into experiences with the criminal justice system, and survivors who act to protect themselves are regularly criminalized and incarcerated. Implementing actions to interrupt this system of punishment and the policies that fuel it, however, remain an enormous challenge.
The recent enactment in New York of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) – the first sentencing reform of its kind in the country – presents an unprecedented opportunity in this regard. The law, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed in May 2019, expands judicial discretion and creates sentencing alternatives for survivors convicted of crimes directly related to abuse. Additionally, the law includes a retroactivity provision which provides opportunities for currently incarcerated survivors to apply to the courts to be resentenced and released earlier. The DVSJA's alternative sentencing provisions went into effect immediately after its enactment, and the law's resentencing provisions became effective on August 14, 2019.
The passage of the DVSJA was the result of a 10-year campaign carried out by the Coalition for Women Prisoners and led by currently and formerly incarcerated survivors. The new law holds significant potential to reduce the long-term incarceration of survivors facing criminal charges and to bring home survivors currently in prison. The law can also inform related legal and advocacy efforts across the country.
This course, organized by the Women & Justice Project, will review the DV Survivors Justice Act statute, discuss implementation efforts that are currently underway, and shed light on the criminalization of survivors and the experiences of survivor-defendants in the criminal justice system.
- Analyze the provisions of the DVSJA and its implications for related efforts across the nation
- Review current efforts to implement the DVSJA and how to get involved with these efforts
- Discuss the criminalization of survivors and the experiences of survivor-defendants in the criminal justice system
- Understand the expertise and leadership of currently and formerly incarcerated survivors, and how that expertise and leadership led to the passage of the DV Survivors Justice Act
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