In the spring of 2019, New York passed a law, effective August 12, 2019, allowing for individuals who can show that they are survivors of domestic abuse to apply for resentencing to reduced, determinate terms. The resentencing law, C.P.L. § 440.47, enacted as part of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, recognizes that trauma can have lingering effects and lead to criminal justice system involvement. The law’s aim is to mitigate the harsh effects of punishment for those whose crimes can be directly linked to their history of trauma. Under this new law, those who can show that they are serving a prison sentence of more than eight years, have no predicate violent felonies, were not convicted of any enumerated exclusion offenses, and can demonstrate a connection between the abuse they suffered and their “criminal behavior” are eligible to apply for resentencing.

CAL is identifying its existing clients who might benefit from this law and shepherding those who meet the eligibility criteria through the application process. In addition, because the law provides a right to counsel, CAL is working with defense providers, advocates, and other stakeholders across New York State to ensure that everyone who is eligible to petition for resentencing has access to legal help to do so.

Kate Skolnick coordinates the DVSJA project for CAL.