Report of the Manhattan District Attorneys:Domestic Violence Initiative:Recommendations to Combat Domestic Violence in New York City:October 2016

A Message from District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

Thank you to everyone who worked on this Domestic Violence Initiative, especially those who

committed countless hours participating in working group sessions convened by my office over the

last two years. The recommendations in this report and the improvements that will result from their

implementation will transform the lives of innumerable New Yorkers and would not have been

possible without the wisdom and experience brought to this initiative.

The prevalence of domestic violence is not just a criminal justice crisis. It is a national public health

crisis that affects all neighborhoods and communities, and threatens our most vulnerable family

members, particularly women and children. In 2015, the NYPD responded to nearly 33,760 domestic

violence incidents in Manhattan—that’s more than 92 incidents each day.

Because of the seriousness of intimate partner violence and the tendency of perpetrators to become

more violent as time passes, New York City and State officials have undertaken a variety of reforms

targeted at this crime and other forms of domestic violence. In 2010, I created the Special Victims

Bureau as a way of centralizing oversight of this critical set of cases. And in 2014, we opened a

Manhattan Family Justice Center to integrate essential services for domestic violence victims under

one roof, after successful advocacy from my office and others. Working with our partners in Albany,

in 2012 the Legislature enacted the Aggravated Domestic Violence Law, which created a new felonylevel

crime for perpetrators who have been previously convicted of certain DV crimes within a fiveyear

period. The law took effect in early 2013 and as of October 1, 2016, 394 individuals have been

charged with committing the new crime, of which 353 cases have been concluded. There were 254

that ended in a plea or conviction. Sixty-nine percent of those charged under the new law were

convicted of a crime, a much higher rate than the typical domestic violence misdemeanor. Even more

striking, nearly one-third of those charged under the new law ultimately pleaded guilty to a felony.

Yet despite efforts targeted at preventing these crimes, domestic violence has resisted the trend of

declining crime in New York City. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for survivors to come

forward, and as a society we must do everything we can to provide resources and support for them.

The roots of this problem are numerous and diverse. That’s why we recognize that in order to respond

effectively to domestic violence, we need to work together—across systems, with multiple partners at

the table sharing their experiences, knowledge, and recommendations. And that’s what we have done

here. Thanks to the participation and efforts of numerous community-based service providers and

stakeholders, we have developed a set of recommendations—informed by community experiences to

improve the way we address domestic violence in our city. Thank you again to all those who

participated.

Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

Manhattan District Attorney

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