Deborah Spiroff

From Greenpoint to Albany: Safe Way Home Act Awaits Governor Cuomo’s Signature

NY State Senate chamber (courtesy of Flickr/JVL)

A new state law that began in Greenpoint as a crowdfunding campaign to provide sexual assault victims free transportation home from the hospital following treatment is headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo for final approval.

The Safe Way Home Act (Senate Bill S3966A) unanimously passed both the New York State Senate and Assembly in June and the bill is headed to the Governor, whose 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda passed legislation this year including criminalizing revenge porn and strengthening workplace harassment protections.

Deborah Spiroff, a Greenpoint resident since 2004, and a volunteer for the past two years at Wycoff Heights Medical Center’s Violence Intervention Treatment Program raised concerns for sexual assault survivors who have no choice but to walk home alone after being discharged from the hospital.

“I’ve had more than one case where after the person has been treated they’re just released, and they literally were walking home from Wycoff Hospital at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the morning,” Spiroff told Greenpointers last winter when the bill was first introduced.

Sprioff launched the initial GoFundMe campaign raising $750 for survivors and began reaching out to local elected officials. State Assemblyman Joe Lentol introduced the Safe Way Home Act after meeting with Spiroff and State Senator Julia Salazar sponsored the bill.

“The creation of programs to better our communities frequently come straight from those experiencing problems,” Lentol said in a statement. “I am happy to say the Safe Way Home Act was yet another incredible achievement spearheaded from a constituent. Deborah Spiroff saw a problem and found a solution,” he said.

“Sexual assault survivors deserve the highest standard of care, and part of that includes a ride home after what is often the most traumatic day of the victim’s life,” Salazar said in a separate statement. “This is common-sense legislation that shows the positive results of people getting involved in their community and in their government. I am grateful to Deborah Spiroff for bringing this issue to my attention and to Assemblyman Lentol for working with me to pass this bill into law.”

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Safe Way Home Act to Provide Free Transportation Home to Sexual Assault Victims

Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (Courtesy of Joseph Lentol)

Following a meeting with volunteer victims advocate and Greenpointer Deborah Spiroff, State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol introduced The Safe Way Home Act this week, to provide sexual assault victims free transportation home from the hospital following treatment.

The budget would be provided through seized forfeiture funds from the district attorney’s office and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services would be the program administrator.

Spiroff, who identifies as a survivor, has volunteered for the past two years at Wycoff Heights Medical Center in the Violence Intervention Treatment Program, working on call two to four days per month for 12 – 15 hour shifts. Volunteers like herself must go through training and a background check to volunteer their service to victims of sexual assaults.

“I’ve had more than one case where after the person has been treated they’re just released, and they literally were walking home from Wycoff Hospital at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the morning,” Spiroff said. “And even if it’s earlier in the day depending on where an assault may have occurred, it could have been near a subway; assaults happen everywhere. And frequently cell phones are stolen, wallets are stolen, metro cards are stolen, it’s just a very overwhelming traumatic time.”

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