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Skoufis Passes Bill Mandates Arrests in Cases of Domestic Violence

Front: Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, Rear: DA David Hoovler, Senator James Skoufis, OC Sheriff Paul Arteta and Goshen Police Chief James Watt

Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) joined advocates and partners in local law enforcement at the Village of Goshen Police Department on Friday to announce a significant change to state law that will mandate arrests in cases of domestic violence. Skoufis’ legislation was included in the state’s recently enacted budget (S.4006-C, Part VV).

Under bail reform, domestic violence charges did not compel mandatory arrests, meaning that reported abusers would receive little more than a slap on the wrist and an appearance ticket, and could return home to their victims the same day. This approach posed serious, and sometimes fatal, risks for victims and likely had a chilling effect on the ability of victims to proactively report their abusers.

“Not only do victims of domestic violence deserve to be believed, they deserve true protection under law, and that starts with giving police the tools they need to keep victims safe,” said Skoufis, who sponsored the original standalone bill (S.6076). “By making instances of domestic violence arrest-mandatory, we’re sending a strong signal that violence has no place in our homes and that victims will be supported when they come forward. I applaud the hard work of all of our partners gathered today, and of law enforcement across Orange County, as we fight to eradicate domestic violence in our communities.”

According to data aggregated by Mid-Hudson Valley Community Profiles, Orange County leads the mid-Hudson region in instances of domestic violence. Rates of domestic violence increased in Orange County by 16% between 2020 and 2021, and Orange makes up more than half of all reported instances in our seven-county region.

“Mandatory arrest laws are part of a coordinated community response to addressing domestic violence and send the message that domestic violence is a crime,” said Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, Executive Director of Fearless!, the Hudson Valley’s domestic violence advocacy group. “Appearance tickets do not send messages of accountability, nor do they consider risk, or the potential of lethality. Systems must have the appropriate tools when necessary to hold offenders, which can enhance the safety of victims and children.”

“Senator Skoufis has, once again, come to the assistance of law enforcement and residents of the Hudson Valley,” said Village of Goshen Police Chief James C. Watt. “This legislation will allow police officers to effectively intervene in the cycle of domestic violence and will help protect and empower victims.”

Senator Skoufis has long been an outspoken advocate for common-sense fixes to New York’s deficient bail laws. When first passed, Skoufis publicly called for a ‘dangerousness’ standard, and he held the line at the budget negotiating table to see the repeal of what’s known as the “least restrictive means” provision this year. This gives judges the added discretion needed to keep potentially dangerous defendants off the streets as they await trial.

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