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Breaking Free: the journey of domestic violence survivors

Posted Mar 04 2011 12:00am
The following has been revised and will continue to be revised to ensure fairness to each party involved in a domestic dispute

1. Keep domestic violence victims safe. In order to ensure the safety of domestic violence victims, it is critical that restraining orders are structured to provide sufficient protection in terms of the time protected. In as such, there shall be no preference given nor rewarded to gender, thereby avoiding a damaging gender bias by the courts. In the past, restraining orders have been time limited, and by providing judges with the flexibility to ensure that the time of the restraining order will protect the victim is critical. Therefore, sentencing should at a minimum require five years protection if awarded by a family court judge and ten years protection if awarded by a criminal court judge.

2. Providing adequate resources for domestic violence victims to live their lives. Many domestic violence victims have limited access to resources to retain skilled Domestic Violence attorneys to represent them in divorce and other proceedings. While there are existing programs, they are inadequate, have long waiting lists and are often ineffective in providing adequate counsel. A new program that leverages existing resources and funding, is necessary to ensure that these victims have timely and effective access to the legal representation they need in divorce cases. Representation must be provided to and for any and all victims of Domestic Violence, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or sexual preference. In the strictest of terms, a victim of Domestic Violence is exactly that, a victim of Domestic Violence. Implementation of a state Oversight Committee for all domestic violence organizations would ensure that funding is directly helping/protecting victims of violence in NYS.

3. Ensure that alleged domestic abusers are properly scrutinized, mentally evaluated and retained in custody and/or under supervision via a GPS monitoring system, to ensure repeat offenses do not occur and that restraining orders, once secured, are followed. Recognizing the right of the accused is tantamount, but we must also represent the right of the victim and provide measures to safeguard the indentified victim.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that NYS needs to: Approach the issue at a three pronged position with GPS monitoring for offenders as a condition of their release.

A. For first time offenders, revise its bail bond and assurity bond requirements to ensure that those accused of domestic violence are properly incented to show up for their court date and financially penalized if they violate their terms of release and/or order of protection.

A(1) Full cash bail and full cash assurity bonding must be implemented, as well as utilizing domestic violence screening tools as part of the bonding process. Full cash bail needs to be set at no lower than $50,000, and this amount must be reviewed every two years to keep current.

B. For repeat offenders or violators of domestic violence restraining orders, offenders should not be provided the luxury of bail, but should remain incarcerated until trial is completed.
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