From Protection to Punishment: Post-Conviction Barriers to Justice for Domestic Violence Survivor-Defendants in New York State
47 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 7, 2011
Over the past 30 years, domestic violence has been increasingly recognized as a national epidemic. Although significant reforms are still needed, New York, along with many other states, has made important advances in the fight against domestic abuse. These advances, however, have stopped short of reforming the way the criminal justice system responds to survivors who engage in illegal acts to protect themselves from an abuser. Too often, the system responds to such women solely as perpetrators – not survivors – of violence, sending them to prison for long periods of time with little chance for early release. In the cruelest of ironies, these punishments are inflicted on survivors by the very system that should have helped protect them in the first place. As efforts to eliminate domestic violence move forward, it is critical that the experiences of survivor-defendants are heard and respected, and that the challenges they face are not overlooked. This report analyzes those challenges and presents concrete suggestions for reform.
Keywords: domestic violence, survivors, reforms, abuse, criminal justice system
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