Victims of domestic violence are often coerced into criminal activity by their abusers. Their lives or their children’s lives can also be threatened to the point where they may have little choice but to fight back. Therefore, when victims of domestic violence are charged with fighting back against their abusers or committing a crime that an abuser forced them into, they should be allowed to present evidence of abuse they suffered. This means that victims should not only be allowed to present evidence during prosecution, but also if they have been convicted but never had the chance to reveal the true nature of the circumstances surrounding the charges against them.
When the film CRIME AFTER CRIME premiered in January of 2011, only California had a law allowing such evidence to be presented after conviction, and only one other state had an effort underway to pass similar legislation. Now efforts to introduce similar legislation are in progress in:
CALIFORNIA – In 2002, California was the first state to enact a law that allows incarcerated survivors of abuse to petition for their freedom. Click here to read about the legislation already in effect.
GEORGIA – The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence has met with the Governor’s Criminal Justice Reform Council to bring new legislation to Georgia on behalf of incarcerated victims of abuse.
ILLINOIS – Thanks to a partnership between the Loyola University Chicago’s Child Law Policy Institute, the Chicago-based Jewish domestic violence prevention organization SHALVA, and many state legislators. a bill has been passed into law (effective Jan. 1, 2016) to assist (A) incarcerated victims of domestic violence, and (B) victims of domestic violence facing charges for allegedly committing crimes against their abusers. Read more about one of the first cases relying on the law here.
NEW MEXICO – New Mexico State Representative Gail Chasey attended a screening of “Crime After Crime” at UNM Law School and expressed an interest in sponsoring legislation to help reduce domestic violence and wrongful incarceration.
NEW JERSEY – After attending a screening of “Crime After Crime” organized by 16 year-old Michaela Mangot, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has introduced the New Jersey Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, also known as “Debbie’s Law.” Senator Weinberg has since hosted a screening of “Crime After Crime” at Rutgers Schools of Law in Newark.
NEW YORK – New York Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson have sponsored the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. Advocates of the legislation, including STEPS to End Family Violence and the Correctional Association of New York, have partnered with Free From Abuse to organize free public screenings of “Crime After Crime” and to arrange speaking engagements with individuals featured in the film.
TEXAS – Texas State Representative Elliott Naishtat and Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant began looking into the possibility of introducing new legislation in the Lone Star State after they heard from community members and attended a screening of “Crime After Crime” at the Austin Jewish Film Festival.
Can I start or get involved in an effort in my state?
YES! See our Action+Resources page for specific language of legislation and other helpful materials. If you would like to learn more about getting involved in a call for reform in your state, please contact us.