Palmesano, Colleagues Release Findings of Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force

January 23, 2018

Today, Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and his Minorty colleagues released a report detailing the findings of their Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force. The comprehensive document outlines new legislative initiatives to combat the growing public health crisis.

Task Force Chairman Joe Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda) and his colleagues hosted forums across the state. Victims, prevention advocates, law enforcement officials, judges and service providers delivered hours of insightful, sobering testimony that helped the legislators understand the scope and complexity of this pervasive problem.

“We learned that we need to do much better, and we need to do much better right now,” said Palmesano. “It is too difficult for law enforcement officials and district attorneys to arrest and prosecute domestic abusers. It is too difficult for women to find safe, supportive housing. Too many women are choosing between paying for legal counsel or paying fees to stay in a shelter. There isn’t enough coordination between nonprofit service providers, state agencies and our legal system. This session, we’re advancing legislation to address these systemic problems. We think the costs must be addressed in this year’s budget,” said Palmesano.

Palmesano believes that the statistics speak for themselves. Twelve million people suffer from intimate partner abuse across the country each year. The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence reports that intimate partner homicide spiked 22 percent in 2016 over the previous year.

“We’re continuing to see more and more cases of domestic violence, but we aren’t getting better at delivering critical social services that empower and protect victims. During the same period that we saw a 22 percent increase in intimate partner homicide, we saw a 45 percent increase in unmet social service delivery. Expanding these services, particularly supportive housing, should be a bipartisan budget priority in both houses this year,” said Palmesano.

Palmesano highlighted several provisions from the report that the conference will address through new legislation and ongoing budget talks:

  • Remove income caps that prevent the working poor from qualifying for state assistance, which defrays the cost of their stay in temporary housing. Allowing them to continue working places them in a stronger economic position that will ease their transition out of the shelter setting.
  • Establish a fund to help victims retain legal counsel. Too many victims must choose between paying to stay in supportive housing or hire a lawyer.
  • Provide housing subsidies for women transitioning from supportive housing.
  • Provide personal needs allowances for victims staying in shelters, similar to the personal needs allowances allocated to patients in mental health facilities.
  • Make it easier for police officers to arrest domestic abusers by ensuring that slapping, punching and other obvious forms of physical abuse clear the “physical injury” threshold for an arrest.
  • Enhance penalties against domestic abusers who commit crimes in front of children.
  • Provide funding to train law enforcement officials, state and private service providers, judges and other court officials to collaborate more efficiently.

“Our response must be comprehensive and compassionate. This report provides us with a detailed path forward. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature and with the administration to enact these reforms and strengthen protections for women across New York State,” said Palmesano.