Archive for February, 2012
Last week, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill expanding the state’s DNA Databank. With bipartisan support in a 50 to 10 vote, the Senate adopted Governor Cuomo’s proposal to expand the Databank to include DNA samples from offenders convicted of all felony crimes and every penal law misdemeanor. Under the current law, the Databank captures offender DNA profiles for only 46% of crimes.
As Joyful Heart’s founder and president, Mariska Hargitay, said in a recently released video:
“This reform will bring healing and justice to survivors, hold violent offenders accountable, solve and prevent crimes, and avoid wrongful convictions. We know that individuals who commit serious crimes, like rape, have broken the law before. A single DNA sample often matches to multiple cold cases when entered into the Databank. We also know that many rapists have previous convictions for lower-level crimes. In fact, since New York began collecting DNA samples for some misdemeanor convictions in 2006, offender profiles from shoplifting and criminal trespass convictions alone have matched to 332 sexual assault cases. It is now time for New York to use DNA to its fullest potential.”
While the NYS Senate has taken a very significant step toward bringing healing and justice More >
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is up for reauthorization by Congress this year. Since its enactment 17 years ago, VAWA has saved countless lives, protected families, given a voice to survivors and provided invaluable training to the criminal justice community. VAWA is both a symbol and actualization of what it means to create healing and justice for survivors and their communities.
VAWA has fostered coordinated responses to violence against women by bringing together the criminal justice system, social services agencies and private nonprofits that work with survivors. It is responsible for the creation of legal assistance programs for survivors and greater protections for immigrants experiencing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. If passed, the reauthorization will provide for enhanced criminal justice responses to sexual assault, greater prevention of domestic violence homicides and engagement of young people in stopping dating violence before it starts.
Please take action today to ensure that Congress reauthorizes VAWA. Write or call your senators and urge them to become co-sponsors of this vital piece of legislation. You can send the message we drafted or write a letter in your own words, expressing how critical VAWA is in the movement to end violence against women and girls. Calling More >