HARRISBURG – District judges will have the tools they need to better protect domestic violence victims under a bill that was signed into law today, according to the measure’s sponsor, Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).
Senate Bill 449 – which was named Tierne’s Law in honor of Tierne Ewing, a Washington County resident who was kidnapped and later murdered by her estranged husband in August 2016 – clarifies the use of risk assessment tools by district judges when setting bail in domestic violence cases.
Risk assessment tools have proven to be effective in predicting an abuser’s odds of re-offending and creating a dangerous circumstance for victims, Bartolotta said.
“Far too many domestic violence victims suffered terrible consequences even after the crimes were committed, simply because judges did not have the information they needed to keep the most dangerous offenders behind bars,” Bartolotta said. “I am extremely thankful that we have taken a critical step to ensure judges can make the best decision possible when deciding whether to set bail for offenders.”
Bartolotta was joined by members of Tierne’s family at the bill signing.
“My heart goes out to Tierne’s loved ones for the terrible loss they have suffered, and I deeply appreciate the fact that they could join us for today’s bill signing,” Bartolotta said. “They have shown incredible strength through this entire ordeal by dedicating themselves to becoming advocates for stronger laws to protect domestic violence victims.”
Last year, Pennsylvania provided support to more than 89,000 victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence played a role in 102 homicides in 2016, including eight in the counties Bartolotta represents.
Tierne’s Law was part of a package of bills approved by the Senate in March to protect crime victims.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463