Wolf Signs "Risk Assessment" Domestic Violence Bill

Judges use ‘risk assessment’ tools when setting bail in domestic violence cases.

Credit: Commonwealth Media Services

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HARRISBURG (News Radio 1020 KDKA) – Governor Wolf has signed a bill intended to improve judges’ ability to evaluate the threat posed by defendants in domestic violence cases.

Judges use ‘risk assessment’ tools – such as examining criminal backgrounds – when setting bail in domestic violence cases. Dubbed “Tierne’s Law” in memory of a Washington County woman who was kidnapped and murdered by her estranged husband, the bill signed by Governor Wolf is intended to clarify and expand judges’ use of risk assessment.

“And this is something that judges do right now routinely. This bill gives them the resource to allow them to…more objectively look at situations, so that they’re not missing something,” said Wolf.

Tierne’s law also adds strangulation to the offenses for which police officers can make an arrest without warrant when committed against a family or household member.

“We all know the tragic story that led us to take a hard look at our laws, and make this change,” Governor Wolf said. “We mourn Tierne’s loss with her family, and while we can never fix what they’ve had to go through, Tierne’s law will help us prevent senseless and horrible situations like this one from happening to more Pennsylvania families, and will hold perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse accountable for their heinous crimes" Said Wolf.

The governor is urging swift action on several other domestic violence bills the Senate sent to the House last month.

“Tierne’s senseless death was devastating to all of the friends and family who loved her,” said. Sen. Bartolotta. “Today, we honor her memory with this important step towards protecting domestic violence victims who are still in danger. Clarifying the law regarding the use of risk assessment tools will help more judges keep the most dangerous offenders where they belong – behind bars,” said Bartolotta