For immediate release: Monday, Aug. 22, 2011
PR # 12-2011

Intimate Partner homicides declined statewide in 2010

Women continue to be most at risk for violence by someone they know; total number of domestic homicides increased last year, driven by a rise in child deaths

New York State continues to enhance victims’ services and partner with law enforcement agencies to better protect domestic violence survivors

Intimate partner homicides declined 19 percent statewide last year, with law enforcement agencies reporting 73 homicides as compared to 90 each in 2009 and 2008, according to the 2010 Domestic Homicide Report released today by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). 

As in previous years, the report shows that women continue to be most at risk for violence by someone they know: 44 percent (62 of 141) of the adult female homicide victims in the state were killed by their intimate partner; only 1.7 percent (11 of 655) of all adult male homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner. Also, the decrease in intimate partner homicides last year is primarily attributable to fewer male victims (21 as compared to 11). The number of female intimate partner victims has remained relatively stable over the past three years:  67 in 2008, 69 in 2009 and 62 last year.

While the number of intimate partner homicides decreased statewide, the total number of domestic homicides, which includes those committed by other family members, rose 10 percent last year (144 vs. 131 in 2009), mirroring an increase in the total number of homicides reported in New York State (862 vs. 782 in 2009).  This increase was primarily driven by a rise in the number of domestic homicides involving children under the age of 18.

DCJS Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne said: “This is the fourth year that we have published this report and today, as in the first year, one fact remains the same: the least safe place for a woman in the State of New York is her own home. Domestic violence is a serial crime: we know who the offender is, who the victim is and where the crime is likely to occur, but we don’t know when. The state has been intensely focused on training police officers so they can address the re-offense and stop the escalation of the crime before it turns deadly.”

The state also released other two reports – the 2010 Domestic Violence Dashboard Project and the 2010 New York State Domestic Violence Annual Report, both compiled by the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) in coordination with the state’s Domestic Violence Advisory Council. These reports provide a detailed look at the amount of domestic violence that is reported through a variety of agencies, as well as the state’s efforts to raise awareness, enhance protections for victims and partner with law enforcement to hold offenders accountable for their behavior.

OPDV Executive Director Amy Barasch said: “It is important to collect and measure data, because the more we know, the more we can do something about it. Just as this data indicates how domestic violence impacts all of our systems and communities, the Annual Report shows that the state responds in all of those areas as well: increasing screening in our substance abuse programs; launching enhanced and consistent training for police officers across the state; and supporting municipalities like Albany as they follow the state’s lead in adopting domestic violence and the workplace policies within their administrations.”
           
New York State uses data collected in these three reports to drive decision making and improve the way it responds to domestic violence at the state and local level, and the state has taken the lead on improving training for police officers and enhancing laws to protect domestic violence victims. Earlier this month, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a law to ensure that individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors will be barred from legally purchasing firearms.

And in 2010, a variety of agencies implemented or enhanced programs to provide domestic violence victims the protection and support they need to break the cycle of abuse, including:

  • The New York State Division of Parole developed an alert system for domestic violence cases, which automatically identifies parolees who have been convicted of domestic violence crimes, have orders of protection or specific domestic violence conditions so that parole officers can more closely monitor those cases.
  • Local Probation Departments handled 5,260 domestic violence-related cases last year, as compared to 4,882 in 2009, an 8 percent increase.
  • The New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services integrated questions about domestic violence into their standard discharge questionnaire, and can now measure how many of their clients report domestic violence victimization or perpetration.
  • The state Office of Victim Services increased payments to domestic violence victims by 21 percent last year, providing nearly $3 million in compensation and assistance.
  • New York State courts issued a total of 301,488 orders of protection in 2010, of which 219,876 were required to be recorded in the Uniform Court System’s Domestic Violence Registry, an increase of 6 percent in 2010 as compared to the prior year. The number of required orders of protection – issued in cases involving custody, visitation, support, as well as criminal domestic violence cases – has increased 34 percent since 2007.
  • Last year, approximately 1,100 individuals under the age of 21 filed family offense petitions in the state’s Family Courts, a 22 percent increase from 2009. A 2008 law expanded the definition of “intimate relationship” and made it possible for dating and same-sex couples to seek orders of protection in Family Court, instead of pursuing orders of protection through criminal courts.

Maggie Fronk, executive director of Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County and a member of the state’s Domestic Violence Advisory Council, said: “The Annual Report shows how the collaborative efforts of the advisory council have resulted in increased awareness, coordination of response and prevention efforts among all sectors of our state: government agencies, businesses, and most importantly our local community members. Domestic violence is not private issue. It is not a women’s issue. It is a community issue.”

Added Michele McKeon, chief executive officer of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV): “On behalf of our local domestic violence programs across New York State, NYSCADV applauds the hard work of the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Division of Criminal Justice Services in creating and releasing these three extremely important documents. The Domestic Violence Dashboard and Annual Report have become vital tools for programs and advocates, giving them a broader picture of not only what’s happened in their community but across the state. The information within provides statistics, programmatic highlights and helps offer a sense of community for advocates across the state. The Domestic Homicide Report is a sobering look of the affect of domestic violence in all of our communities and it is a stark reminder how much work we collectively have to do to eradicate domestic violence.” 

The state’s leadership on the issue has also prompted local agencies to enhance their efforts:

  • In 2010, the city of Albany became the first municipality to adopt the state’s Domestic Violence and the Workplace policy. The policy includes training of employees on domestic violence awareness and prevention, personnel procedures that respond to the needs of domestic violence victims and measures to hold accountable those who may use government resources to commit acts of domestic violence. OPDV is working with other municipalities to encourage them to follow Albany’s lead.
  • More than 270 organizations statewide participated in OPDV’s “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” public awareness campaign in 2010, more than double the number in the prior year.
    • The campaign encourages public, private and non-profit entities to raise awareness of the issue by embracing the color purple – the symbolic hue for domestic violence awareness – by shining purple lights on buildings or other structures in their community, wearing purple or sponsoring awareness events.
    • October 19 has been designated as this year’s date to “Turn Purple.”

New York State operates a 24-hour, toll-free domestic violence and sexual assault hotline: 1-800-942-6906 or 1-800-942-6908 (Spanish language). There also are a network of programs across the state that provide direct services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including counseling and emergency shelter for victims and their children, who also fall victim to family violence.

Last year, more children died in incidents that also claimed the life a woman who was a spouse, intimate partner or ex-intimate partner of the offender than in 2009. In 2010, there were four incidents in which an offender killed his children and his spouse, intimate partner or ex-intimate partner; a total of six children and four women died in those incidents. In another incident last year, an offender killed his intimate partner and her child.

There were two incidents in 2009 in which an offender killed his children and his intimate partner; a total of two children and two women died in those incidents. In a separate incident, an offender killed his intimate partner and her child.

All told, 37 children – 24 of them under the age of 5 – were domestic homicide victims last year, as compared to 17 in 2009. The number of deaths reported last year was comparable to the 32 child homicides reported in 2008 and 38 in 2007.  

A list of programs that serve domestic violence victims and their families is available via the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence website (www.nyscadv.org). The New York State Office of Victim Services (www.ovs.ny.gov) also funds 189 programs that assist crime victims across the state.

The Domestic Homicide in New York State 2010 report is posted to the DCJS homepage: www.criminaljustice.ny.gov. The 2010 Domestic Violence Dashboard and Annual Report are available on the OPDV website: www.opdv.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 charged with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive 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 and health care.

 

Contact: Jessica Scaperotti or Janine Kava
(518) 457-8828