The New York State Senate passed legislation to strengthen the rights of victims of domestic and sexual violence and strengthen protections for survivors. This legislation builds on survivor protections outlined in the 2023-2034 budget including $13 million in assistance for State victims and witnesses, $5 million in grants to assist survivors and victims of domestic violence, and $4.5 million for rape crisis centers. The expanded protections feature legislation requiring statewide housing authorities to give domestic violence survivors the same preference as other prioritized populations. In matters of reoffense, it gives prosecutors access to orders of protection issued as part of sealed domestic violence cases. It adds extreme risk protection orders to the statewide computerized registry of protection orders, expands eligibility for victims and survivors of crime to access victim compensation funds, and enacts the New York State Phoenix Act and “Emma’s Law.” The legislation clarifies and expands the definition of welfare to increase awards made to crime victims, expands the definition of a victim of a sexual offense to include unlawful dissemination of an intimate photo, and informs crime victims of their rights upon the sentencing of the defendant. According to the Senate Majority, these changes will make a significant difference in the lives of survivors and help ensure that true justice and accountability are afforded to each affected individual.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Survivors of domestic and sexual violence deserve to have every resource and protection at their disposal on the road to recovery. Too often, the regulations and practices in place hinder their well-being and result in needless red tape, bureaucratizing the process, and discouraging people from utilizing crucial services. With this legislative package, we are clarifying important procedures and ensuring that the rights of victims are truly prioritized. I am grateful to the Senators who’ve authored this legislation, and for the progress it makes on behalf of those affected by these forms of violence.”
“Asking for help can be tough to do as a victim or survivor. Survivors need equitable access to the resources and information that our state provides, such as compensation, housing, and counseling, so we can ensure we are servicing all victims to the greatest extent possible,” Chair of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, Senator Julia Salazar said. “My bill, S303, clarifies and expands the definition of ‘welfare’ to allow crime victims to be compensated for what is needed to restore stability in their lives. Legislation in this package takes significant steps for New York to support victims and survivors throughout their entire healing process.”