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New Report Reveals Barriers to Justice for Survivors of Domestic Violence

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 recently released a report on the barriers to justice faced by women survivor-defendants in New York State. The report, "From Protection to Punishment: Post-Conviction Barriers to Justice for Domestic Violence Survivor-Defendants in New York State," points out that women who are convicted of crimes when protecting themselves often face long prison sentences.

Sital Kalantry, Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, said: "The report released today provides comprehensive qualitative and quantitative evidence to expose the tragic and little understood reality facing survivor-defendants in their interaction with the criminal justice system in New York."

According to the report, an estimated nine out of ten women in New York prisons are survivors of physical and sexual abuse. Nearly all (93 percent) of the incarcerated women who are in New York's prisons for killing their intimate partners were themselves abused by a partner.

The Report suggests that the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (S.5436/A.7874), a bill pending in the NY state legislature, is an important way to address some of the major challenges facing survivor-defendants in obtaining justice.

"New York State has an obligation under international law to respect the human rights of survivor-defendants by taking their experiences of abuse into account," said Elizabeth Brundige, Associate Director of the Center and co-author of the report.