Establishes a domestic violence fatality review team; adds members to the advisory council on domestic violence.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the executive law, in relation to establishing a domestic violence fatality review team, adding members to the advisory council, and repealing agency mandates that have been completed
PURPOSE OF BILL:
This bill would: (1) establish within the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence ("OPDV") a domestic violence fatality review team to work with local communities in examining the factors involved in domestic violence homicides and suicides and to make recommendations to prevent such fatalities; (2) expand the membership of the advisory council on domestic violence related issues; (3) clarify the role of the executive director on the advisory council; and (4) repeal language that established project-specific initiatives that have been completed.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill would amend Executive Law § 575(4) to make technical changes in reference to membership on the advisory council. It would add two new members to the council and add the executive director of OPDV to serve as the chair of the council.
Section 2 of the bill would repeal Executive Law § 575(7), which requires OPDV to develop a model domestic violence policy for counties.
Section 3 of the bill would renumber subdivision 8 of Executive Law 575 as subdivision 7, delete the opening title and paragraphs (a) and (b), which required OPDV to make a report and recommend a model domestic violence policy for State agencies.
Section 4 of the bill would add a new subdivision 8 to Executive Law §575 to create a domestic violence fatality review team within OPDV.
Sections 5 and 6 of the bill would repeal Executive Law § 575(9) and (10), which required OPDV to develop a model domestic violence employee awareness and assistance policy for businesses and to study and issue a report on the advisability and feasibility of creating an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic violence.
Section 7 of the bill provides the effective date.
Currently, each county is required to have a child fatality review team. The proposed domestic violence fatality review team could not examine cases that are under review, or have been reviewed, by a county child
fatality review team. New York City has a local law mandating aggregate city-wide domestic violence fatality reviews.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
This is a new bill. OPDV proposed a different domestic violence fatality review bill for the 2010 legislative session that was not introduced in either house.
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT:
The primary purpose of a fatality review is to bring together domestic violence-related professionals in a community to review domestic violence homicides and suicides, in an effort to understand more fully the factors involved and the sequence of events in a case, with the goal of identifying gaps in response or service delivery and determining how the system can be improved, in order to help prevent future deaths.
According to 2010 data analyzed by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services:
o 73 intimate partner homicides were reported in 2010, with 34 reported in New York City and 39 in the rest of the state;
o females were the victims in 85% of the intimate partner homicides in New York State (62 of 73); and
o 44% of adult female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner, compared to 1.7% of adult male homicide victims.
Unfortunately, both 2010 and 2011 saw high profile homicides that took the lives of domestic violence victims and their young children. These tragedies are behind the alarming statistics that suggest the need for communities to examine what is happening with domestic violence cases and to explore what may be done to help prevent future deaths.
According to Neil Websdale, Ph.D., Director of the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative:
Comprehensive fatality review allows us to make sense of the death(s) by recreating the experiences of the victims, perpetrators and other parties involved in the case, exploring the compromises and challenges parties faced in accessing services, making decisions and exploring strategies. The review prioritizes the experiences of victims, giving us new ways of improving services, plugging gaps, increasing communications between those agencies typically involved and increasing the links between services and community members.... Teams note the warning signs that might have suggested the case was moving toward a lethal outcome.... Finally, teams suggest a number of recommendations based on the outcomes of their review(s), the goal being to make realistic recommendations that can be effectively implemented and that contribute to more effective coordinated community responses to domestic violence.(1)
New York State first examined the issue of domestic violence fatality review in 1996 when the NYS Commission on Domestic Violence Fatalities was established. The commission investigated 57 homicides and held public hearings across the State on the issue of domestic violence fatalities and the question of how to respond to them. In its report, released in October, 1997, it recommended, among other things, that "(c)ommunities can review fatalities at the local level, where familiarity with the services and responses in domestic violence cases is greatest.(2) Many of the commission's recommendations have been implemented, but a limited number of communities have conducted fatality reviews.
In 2006, the Division of Criminal Justice Services ('DCJS") conducted a survey to determine the level of activity and structure of local reviews of serious incidents/fatalities related to domestic violence.(3) The survey was distributed to district attorneys, police departments and domestic violence service providers. Based on 207 responses, representing all 62 counties, DCJS found that approximately one-third of counties have or had a review and 26% (16) were conducting reviews in 2006. The survey allowed local communities to use their own definition of a fatality review, so the depth and extent of these inquiries varied: Law enforcement professionals and domestic violence service providers that were currently conducting reviews reported that the reviews had "substantial value for their community." The surveys also indicated that "the large majority of counties without reviews... have one or more domestic violence-related professionals who have expressed their desire to bring review initiatives to their community."
This legislation provides for a domestic violence fatality review team to be established by OPDV, in consultation with the advisory council, to work with local communities in conducting a few fatality reviews each year. In these fiscal times with limited local resources, the model proposed - a State and local partnership - would require the state team members to undertake most of the preparation work, and allow maximum contribution to a review, with minimal preparation and no reporting requirements, at the local level. Both the State and local jurisdictions may be able to receive funding through the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice to assist States and communities with domestic violence fatality reviews.
The details of the reviews and identifying information would remain confidential, but OPDV would be required to report periodically to the Governor and the Legislature aggregate data and recommendations that result from the reviews. This structure would allow local communities to benefit from the review while providing important information to assist the State in identifying broader systemic challenges.
By providing civil and criminal immunity to team members, the proposal affords protections for teams to explore fully all aspects of a fatality. When implemented well, reviews can determine what has worked and what needs improvement in responding to domestic violence, with the
ultimate goal of increasing the safety of domestic violence victims, their families and communities.
In addition to establishing a domestic violence fatality review team, this proposal makes several changes to OPDV's enabling legislation. Two core partners in working on domestic violence and sexual assault issues and services, the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, are added to the advisory council. The OPDV Executive Director is added to the advisory council, as chair, to streamline the Director's legislatively-established role as primary advisor to the Governor on domestic violence, and to facilitate effective communication with advisory council members.
OPDV anticipates being able to implement this initiative with its existing resources. With the assistance of the advisory council, it is anticipated that members of the review team can be selected to participate without undue hardship to their agencies or organizations. Local agencies would be involved in only one review, requiring an agency representative to participate in a one or two day review meeting. It is anticipated that relevant agencies, organizations and service providers could attend without hardship and would benefit greatly from participation in the review, as would their communities.
This bill would take effect 180 days after it becomes a law.
(1) OPDV Bulletin, Fall, 2009 (2) Report to the Governor, Commission on Domestic Violence Fatalities, October, 1997. (3) Domestic Violence: Research In Review/"Domestic Violence Serious Incident/Fatality Reviews in New York State" by Deborah Chard-Wierschem and Melissa Mackey, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, October 2006.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7018 IN SENATE April 23, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sens. SALAND, SAVINO -- (at request of the Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Social Services AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to establishing a domes- tic violence fatality review team, adding members to the advisory council, and repealing agency mandates that have been completed THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 4 of section 575 of the executive law, as added by chapter 463 of the laws of 1992, paragraph (b) as amended by section 99 of subpart B of part C of chapter 62 of the laws of 2011, paragraphs (c), (d), and (e) as amended by chapter 396 of the laws of 1994, is amended to read as follows: 4. Advisory council. (a) An advisory council is hereby established to make recommendations on domestic violence related issues and effective strategies for the prevention of domestic violence, to assist in the development of appropriate policies and priorities for effective inter- vention, public education and advocacy, and to facilitate and assure communication and coordination of efforts among state agencies and between different levels of government, state, federal, and municipal, for the prevention of domestic violence. (b) The advisory council shall consist of nine members and
[thirteen]FIFTEEN ex-officio members. Each member shall be appointed to serve for a term of three years and shall continue in office until a successor appointed member is made. A member appointed to fill a vacancy shall be appointed for the unexpired term of the member he or she is to succeed. All of the members shall be individuals with expertise in the area of domestic violence. Three members shall be appointed by the governor, two members shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the temporary president of the senate, two members shall be appointed upon the recom- mendation of the speaker of the assembly, one member shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the minority leader of the senate, and one member shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the minority leader of the assembly. The ex-officio members of the advisory board shallEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14470-01-2 S. 7018 2
[one representative from the staff of each of the following state departments and divisions:]THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE, WHO SHALL CHAIR THE COUNCIL, AND THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS OR THEIR DESIGNEES: THE COMMISSIONER OF THE office of temporary and disability [services]ASSISTANCE; THE COMMISSIONER OF THE department of health; THE COMMIS- SIONER OF THE education department; THE COMMISSIONER OF THE office of mental health; THE COMMISSIONER OF THE office of alcoholism and substance abuse services; THE COMMISSIONER OF THE division of criminal justice services; THE DIRECTOR OF THE office of probation and correc- tional alternatives; THE COMMISSIONER OF THE office of children and family services; THE DIRECTOR OF THE office of victim services; THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE OF THE office of court administration; THE COMMISSIONER OF THE department of labor; THE DIRECTOR OF THE state office for the aging; [and]THE COMMISSIONER OF THE department of corrections and community supervision; THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE NEW YORK STATE COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE; AND THE EXECU- TIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NEW YORK STATE COALITION AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT. (c) [The governor shall appoint a member as chair of the advisory council to serve at the pleasure of the governor. (d)]The advisory council shall meet as often as deemed necessary by the chair [or executive director]but in no event less than two times per year. [(e)](D) The members of the advisory council shall receive no salary or other compensation for their services but shall be entitled to reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the perform- ance of their duties within amounts made available by appropriation therefor subject to the approval of the director of the budget. The ex-officio members of the advisory council shall receive no additional compensation for their services on the advisory council above the salary they receive from the respective departments or divisions that employ them. S 2. Subdivision 7 of section 575 of the executive law is REPEALED. S 3. Subdivision 8 of section 575 of the executive law, as added by chapter 396 of the laws of 1994, is renumbered subdivision 7 and amended to read as follows: 7. [State domestic violence policy. (a) The office shall survey every state agency to determine any activities, programs, rules, regulations, guidelines or statutory requirements that have a direct or indirect bearing on the state's efforts and abilities to address the issue of domestic violence including, but not limited to, the provision of services to victims and their families. Within two years of the effec- tive date of this subdivision, the office shall compile such information and provide a report, with appropriate comments and recommendations, to the governor and the legislature. For the purposes of this subdivision, "state agency" shall have the same meaning as such term is defined in section two-a of the state finance law. (b) Within three years of the effective date of this subdivision the office shall recommend a state domestic violence policy consistent with statute and best practice, policies, procedures and protocols to the governor and the legislature. The purpose of such model policy shall be to provide consistency and coordination by and between state agencies and departments to address the issue of domestic violence. In developing such model policy, the office shall consult with a statewide advocacy organization for the prevention of domestic violence, and shall assure that the advisory council reviews all data and recommendations and shall not submit such model policy until approved by the advisory council.No state agency shall promulgate a rule pursuant to the state administrative procedure act, or adopt a guideline or other procedure, including a request for proposals, directly or indirectly affecting the provision of services to victims of domestic violence, or the provision of services by residential or non-residential domestic violence programs, as such terms are defined in section four hundred fifty-nine-a of the social services law, or establish a grant program directly or indirectly affecting such victims of domestic violence or providers of service, without first consulting the office, which shall provide all comments in response to such rules, guidelines or procedures in writing directly to the chief executive officer of such agency, to the adminis- trative regulations review committee and to the appropriate committees of the legislature having jurisdiction of the subject matter addressed within two weeks of receipt thereof, provided that failure of the office to respond as required herein shall not otherwise impair the ability of such state agency to promulgate a rule. This paragraph shall not apply to an appropriation which finances a contract with a not-for-profit organization which has been identified for a state agency without the use of a request for proposals. S 4. Section 575 of the executive law is amended by adding a new subdivision 8 to read as follows: 8. FATALITY REVIEW TEAM. (A) THERE SHALL BE ESTABLISHED WITHIN THE OFFICE A FATALITY REVIEW TEAM FOR THE PURPOSE OF ANALYZING, IN CONJUNC- TION WITH LOCAL REPRESENTATION, THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE-RELATED DEATH OR NEAR DEATH OF INDIVIDUALS, WITH THE GOAL OF: (I) EXAMINING THE TRENDS AND PATTERNS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE-RELATED FATALITIES IN NEW YORK STATE; (II) EDUCATING THE PUBLIC, SERVICE PROVIDERS, AND POLICYMAKERS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITIES AND STRATEGIES FOR INTERVENTION AND PREVENTION; AND (III) RECOMMENDING POLICIES, PRACTICES, PROCEDURES, AND SERVICES TO REDUCE FATALITIES DUE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. (B) A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE-RELATED DEATH OR NEAR DEATH SHALL MEAN ANY DEATH OR NEAR DEATH CAUSED BY A FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER AS DEFINED IN SECTION EIGHT HUNDRED TWELVE OF THE FAMILY COURT ACT OR SECTION 530.11 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW, EXCEPT THAT THERE SHALL BE NO REVIEW OF THE DEATH OF A CHILD FOR THOSE CASES IN WHICH THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES IS REQUIRED TO ISSUE A FATALITY REPORT IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBDIVISION FIVE OF SECTION TWENTY OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES LAW. (C) THE TEAM SHALL REVIEW FATALITIES IN CASES THAT HAVE BEEN ADJUDI- CATED AND HAVE RECEIVED A FINAL JUDGMENT AND THAT ARE NOT UNDER INVESTI- GATION. (D) MEMBERS OF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITY REVIEW TEAM SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE ADVISORY COUNCIL, AND SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, ONE REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, THE OFFICE OF TEMPORARY AND DISABILITY ASSISTANCE, THE DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE SERVICES, THE STATE POLICE, THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, THE OFFICE OF COURT ADMINIS- TRATION, THE OFFICE OF PROBATION AND CORRECTIONAL ALTERNATIVES, THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND COMMUNITY SUPERVISION, AT LEAST ONE REPRE- SENTATIVE FROM LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT, A COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE, A LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT, A MEMBER OF THE JUDICIARY, AND A DOMES-S. 7018 3
Such recommendations shall be provided exclusive of any study or report the office is required to undertake pursuant to a chapter of the laws of nineteen hundred ninety-four, entitled "the family protection and domes- tic violence intervention act of 1994". (c)]S. 7018 4
TIC VIOLENCE SERVICES PROGRAM APPROVED BY THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES. A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITY REVIEW TEAM MAY ALSO INCLUDE REPRESENTATIVES FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT SERVICES PROGRAMS, PUBLIC HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE AGENCIES, HOSPITALS, CLERGY, LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS, LOCAL DIVISIONS OF PROBATION, LOCAL OFFICES OF THE DIVISION OF PAROLE, THE OFFICE OF THE MEDICAL EXAMINER OR CORONER, ANY LOCAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TASK FORCE, COORDINATING COUNCIL OR OTHER INTERAGENCY ENTITY THAT MEETS REGULARLY TO SUPPORT A COORDINATED COMMU- NITY RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ANY OTHER PROGRAM THAT PROVIDES SERVICES TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS, OR ANY OTHER PERSON NECESSARY TO THE WORK OF THE TEAM, INCLUDING SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. (E) THE TEAM SHALL IDENTIFY POTENTIAL CASES AND SHALL SELECT WHICH FATALITIES WILL BE REVIEWED EACH YEAR. LOCALITIES MAY REQUEST THAT THE TEAM CONDUCT A REVIEW OF A PARTICULAR FATALITY. (F) THE TEAM SHALL WORK WITH OFFICIALS AND ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE COMMUNITY WHERE THE FATALITY OCCURRED TO CONDUCT EACH REVIEW. (G) TEAM MEMBERS SHALL SERVE WITHOUT COMPENSATION BUT ARE ENTITLED TO BE REIMBURSED FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES TO THE LOCALITIES WHERE A FATALITY REVIEW WILL BE CONDUCTED AND MEMBERS WHO ARE FULL-TIME SALARIED OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE STATE OR OF ANY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THE STATE ARE ENTITLED TO THEIR REGULAR COMPENSATION. (H) TO THE EXTENT CONSISTENT WITH FEDERAL LAW, UPON REQUEST THE TEAM SHALL BE PROVIDED CLIENT-IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION AND RECORDS NECESSARY FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE-RELATED DEATH OR NEAR DEATH INCIDENT, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: (I) RECORDS MAINTAINED BY A LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT; (II) LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORDS, EXCEPT WHERE THE PROVISION OF SUCH RECORDS WOULD INTERFERE WITH AN ONGOING LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION OR IDENTIFY A CONFIDENTIAL SOURCE OR ENDANGER THE SAFETY OR WELFARE OF AN INDIVIDUAL; (III) COURT RECORDS; (IV) PROBATION AND PAROLE RECORDS; (V) RECORDS FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESIDENTIAL OR NON-RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS; (VI) RECORDS FROM ANY RELEVANT SERVICE PROVIDER, PROGRAM OR ORGANIZA- TION; AND (VII) ALL OTHER RELEVANT RECORDS IN THE POSSESSION OF STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS OR AGENCIES. (I) ANY INFORMATION OR RECORDS OTHERWISE CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED IN ACCORDANCE WITH STATE LAW WHICH ARE PROVIDED TO THE TEAM SHALL REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW. ALL RECORDS RECEIVED, MEET- INGS CONDUCTED, REPORTS AND RECORDS MADE AND MAINTAINED AND ALL BOOKS AND PAPERS OBTAINED BY THE TEAM SHALL BE CONFIDENTIAL AND SHALL NOT BE OPEN OR MADE AVAILABLE, EXCEPT BY COURT ORDER OR AS SET FORTH IN PARA- GRAPHS (K) AND (L) OF THIS SUBDIVISION. (J) ANY PERSON WHO RELEASES OR PERMITS THE RELEASE OF ANY INFORMATION PROTECTED UNDER PARAGRAPH (I) OF THIS SUBDIVISION TO PERSONS OR AGENCIES NOT AUTHORIZED TO RECEIVE SUCH INFORMATION SHALL BE GUILTY OF A CLASS A MISDEMEANOR. (K) TEAM MEMBERS AND PERSONS WHO PRESENT INFORMATION TO THE TEAM SHALL NOT BE COMPELLED TO DISCLOSE INFORMATION ABOUT THE REVIEW PROCESS OR ANY DISCUSSION, DETERMINATION, CONCLUSION OR RECOMMENDATION OF THE TEAM THROUGH DISCOVERY OR TESTIMONY IN A CIVIL OR CRIMINAL PROCEEDING. NOTH- ING IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO PREVENT A PERSON FROM TESTIFY- ING AS TO INFORMATION WHICH IS OBTAINED INDEPENDENTLY OF THE TEAM OR INFORMATION WHICH IS PUBLIC.S. 7018 5
(L) TEAM MEMBERS ARE NOT LIABLE FOR DAMAGES OR OTHER RELIEF IN ANY ACTION BROUGHT BY REASON OF THE PERFORMANCE OF A DUTY, FUNCTION, OR ACTIVITY OF THE TEAM. (M) CONSISTENT WITH ALL FEDERAL AND STATE CONFIDENTIALITY PROTECTIONS, THE TEAM MAY PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO ANY INDIVIDUAL OR ENTITY FOR APPROPRIATE ACTIONS TO IMPROVE A COMMUNITY'S RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. (N) THE TEAM SHALL PERIODICALLY SUBMIT A CUMULATIVE REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE INCORPORATING THE AGGREGATE DATA AND A SUMMARY OF THE GENERAL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RESULTING FROM THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITY REVIEWS COMPLETED PURSUANT TO THIS SUBDIVI- SION. THE CUMULATIVE REPORT MAY THEREAFTER BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC, CONSISTENT WITH FEDERAL AND STATE CONFIDENTIALITY PROTECTIONS. S 5. Subdivision 9 of section 575 of the executive law is REPEALED. S 6. Subdivision 10 of section 575 of the executive law is REPEALED. S 7. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become law.