Domestic Violence Survivor’s Justice Act (DVSJA)
Decades worth of activism has ultimately led to the passage of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act by Governor Cuomo. Enacted in 2019, the DVSJA allows judges to sentence domestic violence survivors to shorter prison terms and, in some cases, community-based alternative-to-incarceration programs, and provides survivors currently in prison the opportunity to apply for re-sentencing.
Survivor’s Justice Project (SJP)
The Survivors Justice Project (SJP) is a collective of survivors of domestic violence, currently and formerly incarcerated women, activists, lawyers, students, academics, and organizations working for the decarceration of domestic violence survivors through robust implementation and expansion of the New York State Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA).
The law holds transformative potential for survivors and the criminal legal system as a whole, so SJP is committed to coordinating state-wide, strategic, cross-movement implementation.
Specifically, SJP’s work is focused on:
Survivor’s Voices: Women of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
A Restorative Project of Inquiry, Documentation and Action
Survivor’s Voices: Women of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility is a series of oral histories, documenting the fight against domestic violence in New York. A collective of students, directly impacted people, oral historians, and academics have been working to amplify and uplift the work done by activists and domestic violence survivors who have been criminalized by the state of New York.
A major component of Survivor’s Voices is examining the hearings on domestic violence that took place inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in 1985. In 2021, we now have a better understanding that hurt people often hurt others, and many incarcerated people are survivors of harm themselves. However, these conversations were not regularly occurring in 1985, making the hearings the first of its kind and a major breakthrough. This hearing allowed women to testify in front of different government agencies and social service organizations and tell their stories related to domestic violence that ultimately led to their incarceration. Too often, these stories are never told and women, trans, and gender nonconforming people are criminalized for their survival.
The Survivor’s Voices project looks back at a powerful historical moment (the 1985 domestic violence hearings at Bedford Hills) to create a lens to critically investigate the current state of affairs for survivors and develop actionable resources for justice and change.
The power of this initiative is centered in the solidarities that will accelerate its impact. These include:
This project is one part history: exploring and exposing the power of hearings that took place in 1985 and 2 parts education and action as we create resources for helping to free women who are unfairly incarcerated and to change the conditions that got them there to begin with. Our work asks:
The goals of our work are to:
In order to accomplish our goals we will use the following methods: