A recent Cornell Empire State Poll surveying New York residents found that 60 percent believed that a judge should have the right to sentence a domestic violence victim to a reduced sentence if the crime was directly related to his or her abuse. Click here to go to website . Yet, a 2011 report revealed that women domestic violence survivors-defendants face obstacles before and after conviction.
A report by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School and the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York provides some alarming statistics . According to the report, From Protection to Punishment: Post Conviction Barriers for Domestic Violence Survivors-Defendants In New York State,
Nine of ten women in New York’s prisons report being survivors of abuse
Seventy-five percent have endured severe intimate partner violence during adulthood.
Ninety-three percent of women incarcerated in NY for killing an intimate partner were abused by an intimate partner in the past.
Post conviction, the report claims, female domestic violence survivors-defendants face the following “barriers to justice:”
overly restrictive mandatory sentencing statutes
limited access to alternative-to-incarceration programs (ATIs)
restrictions on merit time and work release programs in prison
obstacles to making parole and receiving clemency
While the report was based on a study of female prisoners in New York, many of the same barriers face survivors-defendants across the country, Of course, all survivors-defendants are not female, but violence against women is far more prevalent. From Protection to Punishment suggests ways to reduce the barriers, including the possibility of sentence reductions.