Shorter prison terms sought for abused women who strike back

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ALBANY, N.Y. — Advocates for women prisoners in New York state are pushing legislation to cut sentences for domestic violence victims who strike back at abusers or get coerced into committing other crimes.

Arguing that abuse victims pose little threat to others, sponsors acknowledge resentencing bills won’t pass this year, but the debate should start following a Cornell Law School study finding limited leniency for “survivor-defendants.”

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 probation.

Prosecutors say victims already get consideration with lowered charges, like manslaughter instead of murder, and lower sentences than others.

The Correctional Association of New York, the study’s co-author, says less than 175 women in state prison could be affected by passage of resentencing legislation.

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