Although it took a little longer than some legislators hoped, Governor David Paterson signed a number of bills in August that are designed to increase protection for domestic violence victims, as well as make it easier to prosecute offenders.
Paterson signed five pieces of legislation that were approved previously by both the State Senate and Assembly that are now law throughout the state. The legislation:
• Prohibits employers from discriminating against victims of domestic violence
• Prevents housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence
• Authorizes family court in family offense proceedings to extend an order of protection upon showing of good cause or consent
• Provides unlisted numbers for victims of domestic violence
• Provides that orders of protection shall not be denied solely on the basis that the events alleged are not contemporaneous with the application therefore.
State Senator Jose Peralta, who served on the Senate’s Domestic Violence Task Force, praised the legislation, pointing to the orders of protection as legislation that may save a person’s life right away.
“We only tend to read about the worst case scenarios where people end up being killed and you hear about it in the news,” Peralta said. “Orders of protection are a great tool to avoid such tragedies.”
While Peralta praised the new legislation, he said that it is certainly not a cure-all for the problem, which he believes is increasingly prevalent in the western Queens immigrant community he represents.
“Even with these tools, it’s going to take a lot of education to break these walls and break these barriers that exist,” Peralta said. “It’s sort of like the unspoken taboo.”
Throughout the last decade a number of laws have passed – both on a state and federal level – with regards to domestic violence. However, Scott Kessler, Queens Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Domestic Violence Bureau, said there is not really a landmark piece of legislation that has changed the way the crime is prosecuted.
“I think there has been a slow, steady increase of awareness of domestic violence and while there may not be one particular bill, there’s been a number of bills that have been passed in the last 10 years that have made it easier to prosecute offenders,” said Kessler.
Part 3 of our series spotlighted sources of help for victims of domestic violence.
Part 2 of our series delves deeper into the issue of domestic violence, including the effect on children, male victims, and what is being done to help victims.
Part 1 of our series focuses on the introduction of the “disease,” that is domestic violence.