Monday, June 21, 2021
From The New York Times:
Shamika Crawford was left homeless and separated from her children by an order of protection that was later dismissed. Lawyers say cases like hers are common. ... Situations like Ms. Crawford’s, say public defenders in New York City and some domestic-violence experts, are an everyday occurrence in a corner of the justice system where defendants are effectively presumed guilty rather than innocent.
The temporary protection order, also known as a stay-away order, is a well-intentioned pretrial precaution to shield people from abusive partners. But it is issued with such abandon in city courts that it has become a sentence unto itself. One state lawmaker, Assemblyman Dan Quart of Manhattan, said its overuse amounted to a “family separation policy.”
But because the vast majority of misdemeanor domestic-violence cases end up getting dismissed, the temporary orders rarely become permanent. In criminal court in the Bronx, which has by far the city’s highest rate of domestic-violence complaints, less than 4 percent of temporary protection orders were converted to permanent ones last year, the state court system said.
Yet the orders typically remain in place for months. And the consequences for people with low incomes and few resources are often disastrous, long after the underlying criminal charge has vanished. Public defenders across the city described case after case where people lose their jobs, their homes, their rental assistance. Immigrants are detained for months. Displaced people sleeping in their cars get attacked and beaten. Families are torn apart.
Read more here.