Jacobson Stands up for Domestic Violence Victims

ALBANY – Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-Newburgh) voted this week in support of a ten-bill package of legislation to help protect and empower victims of domestic violence.
Survivors of domestic violence are often asked why they didn’t leave their abusers, but financial or other issues often stand in the way. This package of bills works to address those issues.

“Victims of domestic violence face numerous barriers to escaping their abuser, especially if
children are involved. From bank accounts to cars and cellphones, abusers often control every aspect of their victims’ lives. We can help them by making sure they know their rights, are informed about available services, and ensuring that they aren’t forced to stay in a dangerous situation due to contracts and leases,” said Jacobson.

Earlier this year, Jacobson voted in support of the 2019-2020 State budget, which included $90,000 for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley to fund domestic violence initiatives.

The bills passed this week include:
• A.219-A, allows domestic violence victims to vote by special ballot by mail
• A.1945, increases the statute of limitations for a civil action to recover damages for injuries arising from domestic violence from one to two years
• A.2832, requires health insurers to provide victims with the option to have claim information and benefits sent to an alternative mailing address
• A.2850-A, requires hospitals to establish policies and procedures regarding identifying and notifying victims of available services
• A.4267, streamlines the procedure for early lease termination by victims
• A.5318, allows victims to cancel telephone or cable contracts without incurring cancellation fees
• A.5608, expands the Social Services Law of “victim of domestic violence” to include victims of identity theft, grand larceny, and coercion, and assures that they are eligible for victim services
• A.5614, allows victims to receive damages for all economic and non-economic losses from all defendants found liable in civil court
• A.5618, prohibits employers from discriminating against victims
• A.7395, ensures victims of domestic violence understand their legal rights and access to services during criminal and family court proceedings.

Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, Executive Director of Safe Homes of Orange County, said “Safe Homes of Orange County is truly grateful to the Governor, Assembly, and Senate for the passage of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act. The decade-long advocacy around this critical legislation came to fruition this week with strong support across aisles and new leadership within the Assembly and Senate. This legislation can begin ensuring domestic violence survivors who have been criminalized now receive justice, and the system can begin to acknowledge that some currently incarcerated women may have been defending themselves against the coercive control and abuse of their former partners—an issue that should have been taken into account upon sentencing.”

Joanne Sirotkin, who leads the domestic violence practice area at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley offered this comment, “Legal Services of the Hudson Valley is grateful to Assemblyperson Jacobson and the New York State Assembly for their leadership on issues impacting survivors of domestic violence. This important legislation will offer holistic protections to victims of intimate partner violence. As the only provider of comprehensive civil legal services in the Hudson Valley region, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley handles more than 2,500 cases involving issues of domestic violence every year. We appreciate that the New York State Legislature is at the forefront of expanding legal protections for survivors of domestic violence and we could not do our work without their vital support.”

“This legislation will ensure that domestic violence victims can begin living more normal and safe lives. I was glad to play a role in helping these bills pass,” said Jacobson.

Help and support are always available. New York’s toll-free hotline is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-942-6906. For additional information, visit the New York State Office of Victim Services website at ovs.ny.gov or the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence website at opdv.ny.gov. Locally, contact Legal Services of Hudson Valley at 845-569-9110 or Safe Homes of Orange County 845-562-5340.

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