Domestic violence survivors worried about bail reform: ‘Sense of hopelessness’

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Domestic violence survivors are speaking out against the new bail reform law in New York State.

Local advocates said they’re worried that offenders of domestic violence will be released right after they’re arrested and finish the job.

Jerri sparks became a survivor of domestic violence back in 2012. She said her husband had never hit her before.

“When I finally said I wanted a divorce, that’s when he tried to kill me,” Sparks said about the abuse.

The bail reform law doesn’t require bail for offenders of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Sparks said she and her children were told they had five minutes to get out of the house before her husband got out on bail.

She said luckily a judge decided to hold him in jail. But he was charged with a misdemeanor which judges can’t hold you for now under the new bail reform law.

Alli O’Malley is a domestic violence advocate. She said this new law will make victims feel hopeless.

“If I’m severely battered by my partner but there is no bone broken, even if I’m black and blue and largely incapacitated, in the eyes of the law that’s a misdemeanor so they’re going to turn around and release that person,” O’Malley said.

She said she’s afraid this will make victims feel like there’s no point in calling the police.

“At least to hold a person overnight or for a few hours to give them time to cool down gave the victim a respite, it gave them a little bit of time to consider do I want to leave now…Do I want to change my circumstances in some manner over the course of the next few hours so I can keep myself safe? Under the new law, every victim knows that they’re probably not going to take the offender away to buy them a little time.”

O’Malley said the best thing advocates can do now is help people with safety planning. She said it’s good to be proactive about what could be happening in your relationship.

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