Division of Criminal Justice Services

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John Caher: (518) 457-8415 or cell: (518) 225-5240, john.caher@dcjs.ny.gov
Janine Kava: (518) 457-8906 or cell: (518) 275-5508, janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
Press Office, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Service

For immediate release: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NOTE: At 10:30 a.m. today, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise E. O’Donnell and Amy Barasch, executive director of the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, will discuss with the media via teleconference the findings of the Domestic Homicide in New York State: 2008 Report.

Call 1-888-677-1820 to participate in the conference call. Please use participant passcode 1822725 to join the call.


Domestic Homicides Increase 7 percent in New York State
Increase in 2008 domestic homicides nearly triple that of other homicides

ALBANY ─ Domestic homicides in New York State increased 7.3 percent in 2008 while other homicides increased 2.6 percent, according to a new report by researchers at the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

The report, “Domestic Homicide in New York State, 2008,” tracks homicides in which the victim was either an intimate partner or child of the perpetrator, or involved some other type of family relationship. It provides information on domestic homicides and its component relationship categories ─ intimate partner, child victim, and other family member. According to the report:

  • Intimate partner homicides increased by 25 percent in 2008; counties outside of New York City reported a 45 percent increase in intimate partner homicides.
  • Statewide, 50 percent of females age 16 and over who were murdered were killed by intimate partners; in contrast, only 4 percent of adult male murder victims were killed by an intimate partner.
  • The number of male victims of intimate partner homicide increased 64.3 percent between 2007 and 2008 (from 14 to 23), led primarily by a two-fold increase in male intimate partner homicides in New York City (from 8 to 16).
  • Child domestic homicides decreased by 31 percent in 2008, primarily because there were fewer infant/newborn homicides reported outside of New York City.

New York State is recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Landmarks such as Niagara Falls, the Mid-Hudson Bridge, the Con Ed Clock Tower and World Trade Center 7 will be illuminated with the color purple, which symbolizes the fight against domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a scourge on our state and our society, and one which I will do everything in my power to eradicate,” Governor David A. Paterson said. “I remain committed to protecting victims, and this report accentuates why such a strong commitment is necessary. In my Administration, every month is domestic violence awareness month.”

Through the Governor’s leadership, the Legislature this year enacted a series of bills designed to provide enhanced protection for victims of domestic violence, improve the court system’s response to families affected by domestic violence and hold abusers accountable for their actions.

One of those bills, signed by Governor Paterson earlier this month: establishes procedures to ensure domestic violence is appropriately factored into custody decisions; designates certain sex crimes as “family offenses,” which allows evidence to be heard in order of protection proceedings in family court and ensures that mandatory arrest apply to these domestic violence offenses; and requires law enforcement officers who respond to a domestic incident involving an individual on probation or parole to send a copy of the domestic violence incident report to the supervising agency as soon as practicable.

The state also has enacted laws that prohibit employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence; require college campuses to distribute information on domestic violence and sexual assault; and prohibit imposing a requirement that a victim of domestic violence contact his or her abuser as a condition of receiving a public benefit.

Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise E. O’Donnell said the report underscores the fact that a significant portion – nearly 18 percent – of the homicides in New York State last year involved domestic violence. In addition, the report shows that intimate relationships are far more deadly for women: Of the 91 intimate partner homicides statewide, nearly three-quarters of the victims – 68 – were female.

“This report highlights the devastating consequences of domestic violence – something those of us who work in the criminal justice system are all too familiar with,” Deputy Secretary O’Donnell said. “By clearly identifying the problem – who is victimized, where and when – we can work in partnership with law enforcement agencies across the state to develop effective policies and programs designed to combat domestic violence proactively.”

DCJS and the Governor’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) will host a day-long training in November that will explore domestic violence reduction strategies. The conference will train law enforcement officials from agencies participating in Operation IMPACT, the state’s strategic crime-fighting initiative that targets the 17 counties in New York State reporting approximately 80 percent of the crime outside of New York City.
“Crime fighting is most effective when all stakeholders – district attorneys’ offices, police and probation departments and our other law enforcement partners, as well as community organizations – work together,” Deputy Secretary O’Donnell said. “That is the goal, mission and result of Operation IMPACT, and DCJS is pleased to join with the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to share with our IMPACT partners proven strategies in the fight against domestic violence.”

OPDV Executive Director Amy Barasch said: “Despite impressive strides taken under the current Administration, this report shows that domestic homicides continue to be high in our state. Measuring the problem is essential to assessing how we address it.”

Executive Director Barasch added: “Fortunately, most domestic violence does not result in homicide, but we see the bigger problem reflected in police responding to almost a half-million domestic calls every year, shelters housing more than 16,000 people annually, and emergency hotlines handling another 300,000 calls. We will continue to work with our colleagues in state and local government and the non-profit sector to ensure that, especially in a time of ongoing economic uncertainty, services remain strong for victims and we do everything we can collectively to encourage them to seek help before they become a homicide statistic.”

The report, written by Matthew Fetzer and Adriana Fernandez-Lanier, Ph.D., both of the DCJS Office of Justice Research and Performance, is derived from data submitted monthly by state and local law enforcement agencies. It provides detailed information on the 147 domestic homicides reported to the police during 2008. The entire report is available on the DCJS website at www.criminaljustice.ny.gov.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is a state agency charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive level staff on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement, local social service providers, and health care.