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New York state law helps bring an incarcerated survivor home

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This story was originally published at Prism.

On Wednesday, June 2, Denise Mann was resentenced under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA). While the law was designed to meet the needs of survivors like Mann, the success of her petition was hard-won. Despite the potential of the law to positively impact the lives of defendant- and incarcerated-survivors of domestic abuse, its use has been uneven and subject to the court officials’ whims and biases.

As reported by Prism, Mann’s petition to be resentenced under the law had been opposed by Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz, who argued both that Mann provided insufficient evidence of past abuse and that those claims of abuse were unrelated to the offense for which she was sentenced. It’s an argument commonly used to oppose DVSJA cases and illustrates how the courts continue to misunderstand the effects of domestic violence.

In a surprising turn of events however, the DA’s office withdrew their initial opposition to Mann’s case a few days before closing arguments. Mann was resentenced to five years of incarceration with four years of community supervision. Because Mann has already served seven and a half years at New York’s Bedford Hill Correctional........

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