AVP Says No to Rollbacks Against Bail Reform

New York City, NY – The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) joins NYC Against Hate Coalition and communities facing hate violence and intimate partner violence to demand “No Rollbacks” to the current New York State bail laws. AVP serves thousands of LGBTQ people every year, who as LGBTQ, Black, Latinx, immigrant, working-class, and low-income survivors of violence, were often themselves criminalized and detained because of the discriminatory nature of cash bail and pretrial detention. 

Last year, AVP joined many other social justice organizations to push New York State to pass bail and pretrial reforms aimed at reducing pretrial detention, ending the rampant injustices of money bail and ensuring due process. Backed by criminal justice advocates and formerly incarcerated individuals, legislators passed critical bail reform laws in April 2019 which went into effect January 2020. The Senate is now considering a rollback proposal in the state budget which would unfairly jail many more people than under current bail reform laws. As an organization that serves survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) and hate violence, AVP supports the existing bail reform laws and opposes proposed rollbacks. 

We’ve seen firsthand the negative impact criminalization, cash bail, and pretrial incarceration have on LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence. The proposed rollbacks would continue to harm LGBTQ and other survivors of violence in the following ways.

  • The regressive, rollback proposal greatly expands the potential for bias and discrimination to influence pre-trial decisions. The proposal would rely on a deeply discriminatory expanded judicial discretion system, more opportunities for electronic monitoring, and the equivalent of a ‘dangerousness’ clause that allows judges to use defendants’ previous interactions with the criminal legal system to keep them in jail. LGBTQ survivors entangled in the criminal legal system are often discriminated against by judges because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or other identities. Increased judicial discretion likely means increased opportunities discrimination against LGBTQ survivors in the criminal legal system.
  • Pretrial jailing, expanded under the Senate proposal, can be deadly. The proposal is based on the federal system, which jails roughly 75% of people charged, compared with 10% in New York currently.  These rollbacks would return New York State to a system that led to the deaths of Layleen Polanco and Kalief Browder who languished in jail after being charged with minor offenses because they could not afford bail. Layleen died from an epileptic seizure while being held in a solitary confinement cell in Rikers Island. Kalief was held at Rikers for three years, two of those in solitary confinement. After the charges against him were eventually dropped, he returned home, only to later die by suicide.

Opponents of bail reform are using intimate partner violence and hate violence to rail against bail reform, arguing current bail laws jailing less people put survivors in danger. But rollbacks would actually make survivors less safe. In fact, LGBTQ survivors of violence can become entangled in the criminal justice system because of their status as survivors, as:

  • Mandatory arrest laws and poor primary-aggressor assessments by law enforcement mean that survivors are often arrested instead of – or in addition to – the person engaging in abuse. Arrests cause more trauma and entrap survivors in our criminal legal systems, which continues to cause harm and trauma, especially against Black, Latinx, immigrant, transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) survivors of violence. Rollbacks could make it more likely that LGBTQ survivors of violence are incarcerated pre-trial. 
  • LGBTQ survivors of violence are more likely to have had encounters with the criminal legal system before, during, and after surviving violence. Especially as there are no “perfect survivors” of violence, working class poor LGBTQ survivors of color include people with prior arrests and records, people with unstable immigration status, people who work in illicit street economies for survival, including sex work and those who sell and/or use substances. This is because marginalized survivors have been left out of legal economies and social safety nets, and the state has historically used the criminal legal system and pretrial detention to criminalize instead of aiding them.

AVP asks that the State reject rollbacks on bail reform, and find more ways to invest in measures that will actually help LGBTQ and other survivors of violence live in safety and dignity. This includes increasing the State’s social safety net by investing in housing and services for trans and gender non-conforming people, passing laws like Good Cause Eviction and Home Stability Support, and repealing discriminatory policies like the ”Walking While Trans” loitering law. Investing in communities that experience hate violence and intimate partner violence protects communities, sends a strong message that all New Yorkers are important and valuable members of our society, and will go a long way toward changing the attitudes that lead to violence.

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New York City Anti-Violence Project Calls for Puerto Rican Officials, McDonald’s Respond to Hate Violence Against LGBTQ People in Puerto Rico

NEW YORK, NY — The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) joins Make The Road New York, community leaders, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of violence, and New Yorkers in gathering Monday, March 2nd at 6 PM in Jackson Heights, Queens, to mourn the death of Alexa, a transgender woman of color who was killed near San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the early morning of February 24th.   

According to reports, Alexa was homeless, seeking safety at McDonald’s restaurant, and was harassed for using the women’s restroom. She was later killed after being forced to leave the restaurant. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a coalition of over 50 local member programs working to create systemic and social change for LGBTQ communities, consistently finds that trans women of color face disproportionate rates of persistent and severe — too often fatal — violence, and research consistently shows LGBTQ people face higher rates of poverty  and homelessness , as well as widespread employment discrimination, with the highest rates faced by trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people of color. Whether the result of racist and transphobic hate violence, violence from a partner or date, or from neglect and abuse in ICE detention, these deaths highlight an epidemic of violence against trans women of color.  

“The resurgence of anti-LGBTQ violence, and more specifically anti-trans violence, in Puerto Rico is directly related to the climate of intolerance that has been instigated by political and religious fundamentalist leaders. This needs to stop and it has to stop now. This government has to stop any attempt to take away rights like the changes in the Civil Code that are being considered by the Legislature that would roll back the right of trans people to change the gender marker of their birth certificate. Enough is enough,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, human rights activist and spokesperson for Puerto Rico Para Tod@s.

Actress Selenis Leyva and her sister Marizol Levya called for accountability from Puerto Rican officials and police department: “We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the senseless murder of Alexa. Our hearts are broken at this vicious act of hatred. We urge the police department of Puerto Rico to conduct a full and thorough investigation. Alexa deserves justice.”

This is a crucible moment when we must act, as LGBTQ people and our allies, to create safety for one another by building connections across communities. We need better response to these incidents, but even more urgently, we need to prevent this violence and change the culture that allows it to flourish. AVP stands in solidarity with those in Puerto Rico, and demands the responsible government officials ensure a thorough investigation of Alexa’s death and that the officials work with Puerto Rico’s LGBTQ communities to build trust and safety for all, including ensuring full compliance with a guidance from Puerto Rico Department of Labor & Human Resources for transgender folks. 

“It’s important that Mcdonald’s as a corporation takes immediate action to make sure that LGBTQ people are safe in their restaurants globally,” Beverly Tillery, Executive Director of The New York City Anti Violence Project said. “Homeless people, including those who are LGBTQ, often seek refuge and need access to public restrooms. Trans and gender nonconforming people in particular, regardless of housing status, are subjected to violence when attempting to use public restrooms. Bathroom access is an anti-violence issue.” 

AVP calls for McDonalds to: 

  1. Take immediate responsibility for whatever part the staff at the McDonalds played in either reporting to the police, making Alexa feel unwelcome, and/or targeting her for using the restroom corresponding with her gender;
  2. Ensure that all patrons and staff follow the guidance from Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor & Human Resources that protects bathroom access; 
  3. Train all McDonalds staff on how to create safe spaces for those who are TGNC; and
  4. Engage in conversations with the Puerto Rican LGBTQ community about additional ways McDonald’s can support the community in addressing and preventing violence.

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Communications Director, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184

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The New York City Anti-Violence Project empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy.

 

 

LGBTQ, Women, and Survivor Advocates Celebrate the Many New Yorkers Who Will No Longer Suffer the Harms of Money Bail & Pretrial Jailing

December 3, 2019

LGBTQ, Women, and Survivor Advocates Celebrate the Many New Yorkers Who Will No Longer Suffer the Harms of Money Bail & Pretrial Jailing

New York – Today, leading LGBTQ, women, and survivor advocacy organizations, including Girls for Gender Equity, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, New Hour for Women & Children Long Island, NYC Anti-Violence Project, Violence Intervention Program, Inc., Women’s Prison Association, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) Hudson Valley,  released the following statement about the bail reform measures which will go into effect in January, 2020:

“We are survivors fighting for a better, safer and more just New York – and we know that this requires transforming our discriminatory pretrial system.

As advocates serving thousands of  survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence a year, including Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ and gender non-binary New Yorkers, we fought for transformative bail reform in New York State, calling for the elimination of money bail and the implementation of a pretrial system that substantially limits pretrial incarceration and ensures due process and individualized justice. With support from the vast majority of residents across the state, bail reform legislation enacted last session and will go into effect on January 1st.

Rather than celebrate the work of New Yorkers to end the criminalization of poverty and protect the presumption of innocence, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York (DAASNY) has tried to stymie the implementation of the new reforms by stoking fear about “public safety.”

However, as advocates and people who have been impacted by intimate partner violence, we know that Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ, and women survivors are often themselves criminalized and that pretrial incarceration can undermine the safety of survivors. Mandatory arrest laws and cursory primary-aggressor assessments by law enforcement mean that survivors are often arrested instead of – or in addition to –  the person engaging in a pattern of abusive partner behavior. The Family Violence Program of the Urban Justice Center in New York City found that survivors of IPV had been arrested in 27% of cases received through their hotline in a two-year period. 85% of survivors arrested had a prior documented history of being subjected to domestic violence, and 85% were injured during the incident that led to their arrest.

As anti-violence organizations, we know that pretrial jailing can be deadly. According to the Bureau of Justice, 471 New Yorkers died in county jails between 2000 and 2014. The State Commission on Correction has found that “gross incompetence” cost the lives of people in jails from Nassau to Onondaga, including India Cummings in Erie County and Layleen Polanco in New York City.

Pretrial incarceration also harms children and families. The vast majority – 80% – of incarcerated and detained women are  mothers and primary caregivers. Even a few days of pretrial detention can result in the loss of employment and housing and the initiation of child neglect cases with devastating long-lasting impacts on the financial stability, health and well-being of families.

We are acutely aware that too often, survivors’ experiences are exploited when prosecutors work to pass laws to give themselves broad discretion and leverage in court in order to increase convictions. Every day, we hear from survivors that what they really need is economic stability, housing, health care, and trauma-informed services.

If District Attorneys are interested in supporting survivors, they need to listen to us and fight for emergency shelter and long-term housing, economic justice, and access to robust healthcare.

This is what survivors need. This is what New York State needs.”

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mlj0014st.pdf

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2018/05/13/mothers-day-2018/

A Special NCAVP Report on Anti-LGBTQ Violence During Pride

This year, Pride celebrations around the country marked June as the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and New York City hosted the international community for a World Pride celebration. While our communities experienced an increase in visibility, Pride season was also marked by repeated reports of violence in the LGBTQ community. 

Today, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is releasing a special report, Pride and Pain: A Snapshot of Anti-LGBTQ Hate and Violence During Pride Season 2019. This report outlines the incidents and trends of violence documented nationally in the two-month period from May 15 to July 15, 2019

Beverly Tillery, New York City Anti-Violence Project’s (AVP) Executive Director said:

“It’s important to remember that violence against the LGBTQ communities continues and in some cases is intensifying. For many of us Pride is a time for celebration, a time to honor our roots in the Stonewall Rebellion, and a reminder of the important legislative and cultural victories that are worth celebrating. This Pride season, we were reminded over and over again of the violence that plagues our community, particularly transgender members of the  community. This snapshot provides another window into the various forms of violence our community faces, and shows how the visibility of Pride season can sometimes lead to greater targeting and attacks.”

Report Summary: 

  • 14 homicides from May 15 – July 15, 2019 including 7 homicides of Black trans women. This was an average of nearly 2 (1.75) homicides each week and more than three times the hate violence homicides recorded between January 1 and May 14, 2019
  • 2 fatalities of trans women of color while in detention, Johana Medina and Layleen Polanco
  • 6 dating, hook-up, and intimate partner violence related incidents
  • 22 anti-LGBTQ protests at pride activities, drag queen story hours, and LGBTQ establishments

 

Ericka Dixon, NCAVP National Capacity Building Coordinator said: “While we recognize that there is no way to know and account for all LGBTQ people who have been targeted and harmed, we can raise and amplify the stories we do know. NCAVP tracks these incidents of violence nationally as a way to better understand how violence impacts LGBTQ and HIV-affected people. This informs our work in preventing and responding to incidents of violence against our community, and in educating LGBTQ people and our allies on ways to create systemic and social change.”

The full snapshot can be found here: avp.org For Media Inquiries contact Eliel Cruz at ecruz@avp.org

NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-affected communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

Letter to New York City and State: #Justice4Layleen Demands

AVP Contact:
Audacia Ray, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy
aray@avp.org, 212-714-1184 x 18

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications
ecruz@avp.org, 212-714-1184 x 26

Dear Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio,

We, the undersigned organizations have come together in response to the tragic death of Layleen Xtravanganza Cubilette-Polanco who died while being held on $500 bail in the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island on June 7, 2019; she is one of 10 Black transgender women to die from individually targeted or state-sanctioned violence so far this year. After the historic commitments made by New York State to end cash bail and New York City to close Rikers Island, her death is unconscionable. Layleen’s death is the result of delayed changes to the criminal legal system and the terrible convergence of city and state carceral policies that disregard the humanity of trans women of color and criminalize their survival.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is currently working closely with Polanco’s family and demand action from both the city and the state so that Polanco’s family can get answers about the circumstances of her death and seek justice, and to ensure that the conditions that led to her death are remedied. We ask you to take immediate steps to see that the following happen.

 

On the city level:

  • The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office must expedite the results of Layleen Cubilette-Polanco’s autopsy. They initially told Layleen’s family they must wait up to 12 weeks for answers about the cause of her death. This is unacceptable for any family.
  • New York City Council must pass Intro No. 1535-A and the Mayor must sign it into law immediately. This local law will establish a task force to review the Department of Correction’s (DOC) policies related to the treatment and housing of transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary (TGNCNB), and intersex individuals in DOC custody.
  • New York City must commit to massive, citywide decarceration that significantly reduces the number of people in jail, divests from incarceration as a solution, and reinvests resources in the Black and Latinx communities most harmed by over-policing and incarceration.
  • In the wake of Polanco’s death, Rikers has reported that it has emptied the women’s solitary unit; it must remain empty until all the jail facilities on Rikers Island are closed. The DOC must stop isolating TGNCNB people in de facto “solitary confinement” while claiming it’s for their own safety. Solitary confinement isn’t just a designated space within a jail, it is the intentional isolation of a person away from general population.

 

On the state level:

  • New York State must pass HALT Solitary Confinement Act to end the torture of solitary confinement, including ceasing the operation of the restrictive housing units where Polanco was detained.
  • New York State’s newly passed bail reform legislation goes into effect on January 1, 2020 but District Attorneys and judges can and should stop setting bail immediately. Polanco would not have been held on bail in 2020, and she should not have been held on bail this year. The State must also go further. Although New York’s elected leaders committed to the complete end of money bail, the legislation passed in April did not eliminate money bail on all charges. New York State must commit to the next stage of bail reform to end money bail and protect pretrial liberty for all people, regardless of charge.
  • New York State must pass legislation that decriminalizes sex work, and must cease operating the court-mandated services of the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, which pose as a compassionate alternative to incarceration but keep survivors of violence court-involved and vulnerable to re-criminalization. Polanco missed court dates as part of this alternative to incarceration and was detained as a result. The provision of services should not be mandated and must not lead to incarceration.

 

Finally, New York City and State must invest significant resources in the health and well-being of trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB)  Black, Latinx, and people of color. This requires a multi-pronged approach, including: funding health care programs and utilizing regulatory power to guarantee affirming care related both to medical transition and all care unrelated to transition; creation of housing that is safe and affordable for TGNCNB people; employment programs for TGNCNB people of all ages, and other economic justice programs.

Addressing the needs of Black, Latinx, and people of color TGNCNB communities is an ongoing conversation that has to center their voices. We hope that the Mayor’s Office and the Governor’s Office will schedule meetings with impacted communities in order to move forward on more inclusive policy and legislation

Signed,

The New York City Anti-Violence Project

GMHC

Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Association of Legal Aid Attorneys LGBTQ Caucus

The Bronx Defenders

Queeramisu

The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center

The Legal Aid Society

Transgender Law Center

Make the Road New York

VOCAL-NY

Peter Cicchino Youth Project (PCYP) of the Urban Justice Center

Girls for Gender Equity

Desis Rising Up & Moving

ACT UP NY

BiNet USA

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

JustLeadershipUSA

Global Action Youth Project

GLAAD

The LGBT Community Center

NYC Jails Action Committee

Center for Constitutional Rights

Brooklyn Defender Services

Decrim NY

Black & Pink

 

STATEMENT FROM THE ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT ON PROPOSED HHS ANTI-TRANS RULE

In response to a newly anti-trans rule by the Department of Health and Human Services to limit the definition of sex discrimination, The New York City Anti-Violence Project released the following statement:

“The proposed HHS rule attempting to limit the definition of sex discrimination would deny access to basic and potentially life-saving heath care to transgender, gender nonconforming (TGNC) and non-binary people and all those seeking reproductive care. This is yet another attempt by this administration to enshrine discrimination into our laws and will ultimately put millions of people in danger. Nondiscrimination protections are crucial in ensuring all people have equal access to necessary health care.

Over the past several years, our country has witnessed severe and escalating violence against TGNC and non-binary people. In the past week alone, three transgender women of color lost their lives to homicide. Gutting anti-discrimination protections only serves to put transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary people at further risk for violence.

This latest attack is a clear opportunity for LGBTQ and women’s organizations to join together to demand that our government respect and protect our collective humanity and self-determination.”

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184 x 26

Statement from the Anti-Violence Project on Proposed HUD Anti-Trans Rule

In response to the newly proposed rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that would allow for transgender people to be turned away from supportive housing, the New York City Anti-Violence Project released the following statement:

“The proposed rule from HUD is cruel.  It undermines the 2016 Equal Access rules, strips protections for vulnerable trans and gender non-conforming people, and could block access to supportive housing for transgender people. For this rule to be proposed just days after three Black trans women have been murdered is especially outrageous. Access to resources such as employment, healthcare, and housing curb violence against trans people who are disproportionately homeless, poor, and impacted by hate violence. These continued attacks on the trans community from this inept administration perpetuate the climate of violence in which trans people are dying. To turn trans people away from shelters is to knowingly put already vulnerable lives at risk.”

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, ecruz@avp.org
212-714-1184 x 26

Diverse Group of NYC Community Organizations Rally For Hate Violence Prevention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Eliel Cruz, Director of Communications, NYC Anti-Violence Project
ecruz@avp.org 
212-714-1184

FOLLOWING RISE IN HATE VIOLENCE, DIVERSE GROUP OF NYC COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, ELECTED LEADERS DEMAND A NEW STRATEGY

Jewish, Arab-American, LGBTQ, immigrant, Black and Brown communities held a press conference today to announce new initiative that goes beyond policing,
and press for City funding.

NEW YORK CITY, March 27, 2019 – A diverse group of nine New York City community-based organizations, working citywide across identities, rallied at City Hall steps in support of the Hate Violence Prevention Initiative. The initiative calls for City Council funding to support community-based work, coordinated by a coalition of groups, to make New York safer for our communities.

Over 300 hate crimes were reported to the New York Police Department in 2018. However, the city’s response to incidents of hate violence are ineffective, do not prevent crimes, educate or heal communities, and overly relies on policing. Obtaining a resolution to a hate-violence related incident through reporting to the police is insufficient for healing in communities, does not address the underlying tensions and ideologies that lead to hate violence, and increases penalties for hate crimes which are unlikely to deter assailants from committing acts of violence.

When a 12-year-old allegedly chalked swastikas on the playground of PS 139 in Rego Park, Queens a few weeks ago, we opposed a police-driven response with criminal penalties. Instead, we immediately reached out to the school and the community, and held an antisemitism workshop for children in the neighborhood led by a team of professional youth educators. This reflects our commitment to fighting hate violence using strategies that produce the long-term impact, healing, and learning all which we believe will prevent future hate incidents and knit communities closer together.

We believe that hate violence and bias incidents must be prevented in community, not by the police or by prosecutors. Organizations doing work in community to end hate violence not only work with communities to create safety and accountability in the diverse neighborhoods of New York, but are also working toward economic and racial justice for our communities.

The initiative includes the Audre Lorde Project, Arab American Association of New York, Brooklyn Movement Center, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, Desis Rising Up & Moving,, Global Action Project, Make The Road New York, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, and the New York City Anti-Violence Project and would support these organizations to lead:

  • Bystander/upstander intervention trainings to empower community members to ally themselves with victims when an incident of hate or harassment is underway in public.
  • Community-based, culturally competent reporting of hate violence incidents. Marginalized communities feel safest reporting incidents to community-based organizations, which can help them to make a safety plan and determine whether or not they would like to report to law enforcement or another city agency.
  • Community care, including community-led transformative justice processes that focus on challenging and transforming the perspectives of people who do harm in our neighborhoods, as well as counseling and peer support services for survivors of violence.
  • Rapid incident responses that may include community alerts, town hall meetings, neighborhood safety events, and will also create space for targeted school-based and neighborhood education across multiple identities.

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“No group in New York City is immune from the alarming increase in hate crimes here, and all New Yorkers must come together to combat this epidemic.  We need to support the community-based organizations that are on the ground in the impacted communities, ensuring they have the resources to help prevent and respond to the terrible acts of bias impacting so many,” said City Council Member Mark Levine.

“At this urgent juncture in our history, with anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of racist, xenophobic, and homophobic hatred on the rise across the planet, I’m so deeply encouraged to see Jews, Muslims, immigrants, people-of-color, LGBTQ New Yorkers and so many others coming together to combat hate, strengthen compassion across difference, and build a city where all of us can thrive,” said City Council Member Brad Lander.

“At the end of the day, truly addressing hate crimes is not simply a question of law enforcement, it’s about building solidarity between all communities. Acts of hatred and violence cannot be eradicated by force. Building a sense of trust and understanding across our city, and country, is a highly complex and long-term endeavor, but it’s the only real way forward. Thank you to Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and all of its partner organizations for advocating a far more holistic, and ultimately effective, approach,” said City Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“The Hate Violence Prevention Initiative is an important grassroots effort to prevent and reduce hate violence and bias incidents across New York City. This new initiative recognizes that many vulnerable and marginalized New Yorkers are much more likely to report hate violence and bias incidents to trusted local organizations in their communities than to the police or other law enforcement agencies. The Hate Violence Prevention Initiative will help ensure that survivors of hate violence receive the support they need to heal and recover. And it will give our communities crucial tools and resources for transforming the perspectives of those who cause bias-related harm in our communities,” said Monifa Bandele, a leader of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR).

“When LGBTQ people experience hate violence on the street, at home, or on the job, they want to be sure that the person they report to affirms not only their experience but also their identities. That’s why 282 LGBTQ survivors reported hate violence to AVP’s hotline in 2017 while 325 people across all identities reported hate crimes to the NYPD. Community based organizations, like the New York City Anti-Violence Project, are best positioned to support survivors of violence, and city council must fund us to do this work. We know what we need, and it isn’t more policing,” said Audacia Ray, Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

“The Center for Constitutional Rights stands in solidarity with our community-based partners, who are leading transformative practices without dependence on law enforcement,” said CCR Advocacy Program Manager Nahal Zamani.

“I know my community in Queens. I know that there is kindness and cooperation, and also that there is antisemitism. We need to find solutions that are restorative and preventative. We need to find ways for neighbors to see a path forward where we understand our differences, and stick up for one another anyway. The NYPD can only come in once the damage is done, and too often, an approach that relies on the criminal justice system just creates more pain and resentment. The smart, effective, community-based approach of the Hate Violence Prevention Initiative is exactly what we need in Western Queens,” said Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg, founder of Malkhut and co-chair of the JFREJ Rabbinic Council.

 

Open Letter by LGBTQ, Women & Survivor Advocacy Organizations in Support of Bail Reform

We believe in survivors. And we believe in real bail reform.

Dear New York State Legislators and Governor Cuomo,

As organizations committed to supporting survivors of intimate partner violence, we want to add our voice to the growing call for true, progressive bail reform in New York State. As anti-violence organizations, we support the elimination of money bail and the implementation of a pretrial system that substantially limits pretrial incarceration and ensures due process and individualized justice. We strongly oppose the inclusion of any misdemeanor charges in the net of pretrial detention, including in misdemeanor domestic violence cases. As advocates and people who have been impacted by domestic violence, we know that Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ, and women survivors are often themselves criminalized and that pretrial incarceration can undermine the safety of survivors.

From our experiences and those of our clients, we know that decades of reliance on the carceral system has had damaging effects. Mandatory arrest laws often ensnare IPV survivors in the criminal legal system and feed mass criminalization and incarceration of communities of color and low-income communities. This turn to policing as the primary strategy to fight intimate partner violence has also left out the voices of marginalized survivors, including women of color, LGBTQ people, and immigrants who often experience further harm at the hands of the police and prison system.

Intimate partner violence can be devastating for survivors, families, and communities. The process of healing from trauma caused by an abusive partner can take years, and survivors often face a variety of consequences related to health and wellness, safety, employment, finances, housing, and relationships with loved ones. In order to truly heal from, and end IPV, we must find solutions to violence that are genuinely healing and not themselves grounded in violence.

We oppose the pretrial incarceration of people accused of misdemeanor domestic violence because:

  • Survivors are often arrested. Mandatory arrest laws and poor primary-aggressor assessments by law enforcement mean that survivors are often arrested instead of – or in addition to – the person engaging in a pattern of abusive partner behavior.
    • In a survey of domestic violence survivors, 1 in 4 women reported they had been arrested or threatened with arrest during a partner abuse incident or while reporting a IPV to the police.
    • The Family Violence Program of the Urban Justice Center in New York City found that survivors of IPV had been arrested in 27% of cases received through their hotline in a two-year period. 85% of survivors arrested had a prior documented history of being subjected to domestic violence, and 85% were injured during the incident that led to their arrest.
  • Pretrial incarceration disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. Survivors who are women of color, low-income, or LGBTQ are far more likely to be arrested for domestic violence. Racialized gender norms inform who is perceived as a survivor by the police and can increase the possibility of arrest for survivors who deviate from these norms. For example, due to racist stereotypes that position Black women as “aggressive,” Black women survivors are more likely to be seen as a perpetrator when they stand up for themselves, regardless of the circumstances and their actual experience of violence. Queer and trans survivors are also more vulnerable to arrest.
    • In a New York City study, 66% of survivors who were arrested alongside or instead of their abusive partner were African American or Latina and 43% were living below the poverty line.
  • Pretrial incarceration puts non-citizen survivors at great risk. Non-citizen survivors who are arrested and incarcerated pretrial are subject to immigration detainers which can result in prolonged immigration detention, deportation and permanent or prolonged family separation following the conclusion of the criminal case.
  • Pretrial incarceration harms children and families. Incarcerated and detained women tend to be primary caregivers. Even a few days of pretrial detention can result in the loss of employment and housing and the initiation of child neglect cases with long-lasting impacts on the financial stability, integrity, and well-being of families.
  • Pretrial incarceration does not keep survivors safe. Research indicates that incarceration often increases risks for domestic violence by decreasing the economic well-being and stability of incarcerated people, increasing risks associated with PTSD and use of violence, and weakening neighborhood and community support systems that people rely on for violence prevention.

The groundswell of support for bail reform and an overhaul of New York State’s pretrial justice system presents a critical opportunity for anti-IPV advocates – and anyone who cares about survivors of IPV and efforts to end IPV – to chip away at the harm caused by our movement’s misguided faith in criminal legal responses to gender-based violence. While we are committed to supporting survivor choice, including the choice to utilize law enforcement, we desperately need solutions that are not rooted in criminalization and incarceration. Pretrial incarceration is not a solution. It perpetuates, rather than alleviates, the violence survivors experience and puts marginalized survivors at great risk. Instead of incarceration, we call on legislators to increase funding for safety planning, emergency shelter, and long-term housing. These are the resources that survivors need.

New York State Legislators, we urge you to stand alongside survivors of intimate partner violence and anti-IPV advocates: pass bail reform that ends money bail and guarantees pretrial liberty for the vast majority of people, including (but not limited to) all people charged with misdemeanors. Allowing an expansive net for pretrial detention does not serve the interests of survivors or our communities at large.

Signed,
Ali Forney Center
Black Lives Matter Hudson Valley
Day One
Girls for Gender Equity
NYC Anti-Violence Project
STEPS to End Family Violence
Violence Intervention Program, Inc.
Women’s Prison Association

For more information, or to sign on, contact Audacia Ray at aray@avp.org

LGBTQ, Women, & Survivor Advocacy Organizations Support The Discovery For Justice Reform Act

STATEMENT BY LGBTQ, WOMEN, AND SURVIVOR ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS IN SUPPORT OF THE DISCOVERY FOR JUSTICE REFORM ACT (S.1716-Bailey/A.1431-Lentol)

New York, NY (Feb. 6, 2019) – Today, five leading LGBTQ, women, and survivor advocacy organizations released the following statement in support of enacting early, open, and automatic discovery reform in New York State.

“As advocates for survivors of violence, including Black and Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQ and gender non-binary New Yorkers, we strongly support urgent reforms to dismantle injustice in our society and end mass incarceration in our state. Specifically, we urge the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign early, open, and automatic discovery reform legislation (S.1716/A.1431) immediately.

For too long, New Yorkers, including survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual violence, have been criminalized and punished without ever having access to the evidence in their cases. Under New York’s current law, prosecutors are not required to turn over police reports or other crucial information until the eve of trial, making it impossible to prepare a defense. Worse, New York is one of only four states where prosecutors do not have to turn over evidence prior to offering a plea deal. This means that New Yorkers are making critical decisions about their lives without even the basic facts of the case. Like all aspects of the criminal legal system, this injustice disproportionately harms marginalized people, as well as communities targeted by over-policing. It also fails to serve the interests of survivors. There is no justice in wrongful convictions or coerced pleas, and many survivors are themselves criminalized.

Discovery reform does not threaten the safety of survivors of assault and abuse. Nearly every other state in the country has passed discovery reform, leading to greater justice and transparency, and not to witness or victim intimidation. Furthermore, the proposed discovery law has very specific provisions to protect the safety of survivors, in the rare cases where they may be threatened if their information is shared with people facing criminal allegations or the defendant’s attorney. In these cases, judges have the discretion to withhold that information, as very clearly stated in the Discovery for Justice Reform Act. We reject calls by prosecutors for the unilateral power to withhold or redact information that may prove crucial to the defense of criminalized LGBTQ people, women, immigrant, and people of color survivors of violence. Early discovery turnover helps cases to move forward faster and more fairly, an outcome in the interest of survivors and all New Yorkers.

As advocates, we are acutely aware that too often, survivors’ experiences are exploited when prosecutors work to pass laws to give themselves broad discretion and leverage in court, in order to increase convictions, but the people we serve want to move forward with their lives,and economic stability, housing, health care, and trauma-informed services can support them in doing that. Denial of discovery does not serve this purpose. Instead, it increases the unchecked power of prosecutors and contributes to the unjust incarceration of Black and brown people, including women of color, LGBTQ people, and immigrants.

We call on policymakers to stand strong for justice and pass comprehensive discovery reform (S.1716/A.1431) this year.”

Signed,
Ali Forney Center
Center for Anti-Violence Education
Girls for Gender Equity
NYC Anti-Violence Project
STEPS to End Family Violence
Survived and Punished NY
Sylvia Rivera Law Project