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June 14, 2011

"Shorter prison time sought for abused women in NY"

The title of this post is the headline of this recent piece in the Wall Street Journal discussing an interesting sentencing bill in New York.  Here are excerpts:

Kim Dadou spent 17 years in prison for manslaughter for shooting her boyfriend as he choked and threatened her in his car. She had called police several times before and used the gun he kept under the passenger seat to kill him.  She was sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years, denied parole five times and released in 2008.  Now, New York advocates for women prisoners are pushing legislation to cut sentences for domestic violence victims like Dadou, who strike back at abusers or get coerced into committing other crimes....

Bill supporters argue that abuse victims pose little threat to anyone other than their abusers.  They acknowledge the resentencing measures won't pass this year but say the debate should start following a study from Cornell Law School and the Correctional Association that found limited leniency now for "survivor-defendants."

"It is the beginning of the battle," said Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, a bill sponsor who chairs the Assembly Committee on Correction. "We think there are mitigating issues here a judge ought to be able to consider in crafting a sentence."

The bills would give judges discretion to cut a sentence for first-degree manslaughter, for example, from five to 25 years to one to five years, or to probation with alternative programs.

Prosecutors said victims already get consideration with lesser charges, like manslaughter instead of murder, and lower sentences than others convicted of serious crimes.  Also, most domestic violence victims don't commit violence.  "We're trying to focus more on the front end" with efforts to jail abusers, said Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne, president of the state district attorneys' association. "There are times when it may not truly be self-defense."

Out of some 2,000 women in state prisons, fewer than 175 could have their sentences cut under Aubry's bill, according to the Correctional Association of New York, the study's co-author.  However, more than 200 women are convicted every year for crimes directly related to their abuse and would be potentially eligible for alternate sentencing, said Tamar Kraft-Solar, director of the association's Women in Prison Project. They canvassed 49 other states, and New York would be the first to enact such a law, Kraft-Stolar said.

Under the legislation, judges could impose alternative sentences if they find the defendant was a domestic abuse survivor, the abuse was a "significant contributing factor" in the crime and the sentence under the general statute would be "unduly harsh." Some victims said it was not a simple matter of leaving an abuser. They said violence, threats and danger typically escalate when they threaten to leave and that children complicate any attempts to get out of the situation.

The report from Cornell's Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and the association's Women in Prison Project cited state parole statistics showing 80 percent of women sent to New York prisons for a violent felony in 2009 had no prior felony convictions. Of the 38 women convicted of murder and released between 1985 and 2003, not one returned to prison on a new crime in the next three years, the report found.

New York's 1998 sentencing reform, called "Jenna's Law," contained an exception for domestic violence victims from most tough fixed sentences for violent crimes. However, state Sentencing Commission reports a decade later noted the exception had been used only once, for a man who actually got a longer sentence that way.

The research report discussed in this article, which is available at this link, is titled "From Protection to Punishment: Post-Conviction Barriers to Justice for Survivor-Defendants in New York State."

June 14, 2011 at 07:51 AM | Permalink

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"Kim Dadou spent 17 years in prison for manslaughter for shooting her boyfriend as he choked and threatened her in his car. She had called police several times before and used the gun he kept under the passenger seat to kill him. She was sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years, denied parole five times and released in 2008."

As a former misdemeanor prosecutor, current defense attorney, but primarily as a Texan, I wonder why she was prosecuted at all. Of course, I don't know why Plaxico Burress received two years for the crime, essentially, of accidentally shooting himself. But we all remember Bernie Goetz.

Youse guys have an irrational attitude toward firearms in New York.

Posted by: Jingo | Jun 14, 2011 7:17:20 PM

This case illustrates the witch hunt of the lawyer against self-help. This campaign against self help was a proximate cause of the 9/11 catastrophe, with the American male being totally pussified by the realistic fear of prosecution and tort litigation by criminals. The lawyer dominated 9/11 Commission failed to assess this factor. The lawyer traitor should be made to pay in street justice. The hierarchy of this criminal enterprise has to be arrested, receive an hour's fair trial and get executed in the basement of the court. The lawyer traitors want you to call the police to generate massive government sinecures. That form of rent seeking trumps even feminist values of this specific case. Feminism is mere masking ideology anyway.

Self-help is the path to ending crime. I believe it is the mechanism of action of the UN household survey verified low crime rate of Egypt, with people making $1000 a year to support 8 kids, with prices the same as here (imagine the super human nature of the poor).

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 14, 2011 9:26:18 PM

If the boyfriend was a repeat violent offender, she should have had statutory immunity, and a money reward for his death should have been paid her. Kill a violent criminal, and you should have criminal and tort immunity (although as a generality I opposed all immunities as being based on a religious delusion).

The criminal is the good client of the big government, rent seeking lawyer. She killed a good customer of the lawyer. And judges should have no discretion whatsoever, being government workers, having a conflict of interest with a money interest in maintaining high rates of crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 14, 2011 11:23:05 PM

Is this bill worded so as to apply to females only? That is the implication of the article.

If so, that is silly. The idea that domestic violence victims are more often women than men is an urban myth created by a couple of studies that have since been shown to be biased and based on flawed methodologies.

In reality, 70% of domestic violence is low-level and mutual, and women are no more likely to be victims of domestic violence than men. One actual major difference between the sexes is that women are more likely than men to use a weapon when they abuse their partner, probably because of strength differences.

But the underlying propensity to abuse is equal between the two sexes. This has been the consistent finding of multiple studies, studies that woman's advocates go to great length to suppress and avoid discussing. Unfortunately, turning women into perfect victims requires turning men into abhorrent perpetrators.

The bill and its application should be gender-neutral.

Posted by: Jeremy | Jun 15, 2011 3:10:33 AM

As a personal friend and advocate for the release of Kim during her confinement, I was appalled at the lack of respect, that the attorneys, (including her own!) showed toward her during that so-called "trial"!
She was a sacrificial lamb, who was offered up as a payment, to keep the streets from erupting into violence, due to the climate of the times, as influenced by the Rodney King verdict!
If she had been African American, (her abuser having been so) I doubt that the conviction, would ever have happened. It seemed more to me, that the races of the two people were focused upon, more so than the act that ended this man's abusive life.
her attorney, was to my estimation, incompetent to such a degree, that the conviction should have been set aside, based upon that fact alone!
Kim cried loudly for help against her abuser, and no one ansewered, not until she made that decision, to save her own life that night!
The law should be changed, but the wording has to protect the lives of not only female victims, but as well, of anyone, who is suffering under the withering effects, of an abusive situation!
She may have been released from prison, but she still to this day, not truly free. She is forever seen in the eyes of many, as a killer, who is walking amongst us!

Posted by: Rev. Christopher Anderson | Aug 2, 2011 4:06:59 PM

In desperate need of defense funds to help free Linda Diane. No matter the gift, big or small, please help an innocent woman be free of a life in prison. For more information please  respond via email or through lawyer David M. Hopkins. 615-361-2800

Friendsoflindadiane.com

Posted by: JG | Aug 26, 2011 3:09:43 PM

Christopher, my name is Jerry Garcia. I have been helping Linda for the last 4 years. I truly believe if you read her transcripts and website that you will see why it was worth to me to give everything I have owned for her legal fees. We are at a point of post conviction where I find myself short of just a little bit of money to retain 2 more experts that can dispute the previous findings which would set her free from a life sentence. Please help point me in any direction you may know where I can find any funds for her defense. Post conviction was filed today
Jerry Garcia

Posted by: JG | Aug 26, 2011 3:17:07 PM

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