By Kaylee Lindenmuth
HARRISBURG, Dauphin County - Signed into law today was Senate Bill 449, also known as "Tierne's Law," which strengthens protections for victims of domestic violence.
The law is named after Tierne Ewing, a victim of domestic violence who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2016 in Washington County. The husband had been previously arrested for domestic abuse.
Joined by the bill's sponsor Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46, Beaver/Washington/Greene County), PA's Victim ADvocate Jennifer Storm, legislators, stakeholders, and Tierne's family, Wolf signed the bill into law.
"“We all know the tragic story that led us to take a hard look at our laws, and make this change,” Wolf said in a press release. “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."
According to the press release from the Governor's office, Tierne’s Law allows judges to use risk assessment tools to determine whether the perpetrators of domestic violence pose a continued danger to their victims and provides additional avenues for judges to use these tools when setting bail amounts in domestic abuse cases. Additionally, the law adds strangulation to the list of offenses for which police officers can arrest a perpetrator without a warrant when this offense has been committed against a family member or someone sharing their household.
"...I urge the House to pass a package of domestic bills, which were approved overwhelmingly in the Senate, including Senate Bill 501, which would fix an arcane law that allows domestic abusers to have access to guns," Wolf added. "We know that many domestic abusers use firearms to harm their victims, as was the case with Tierne, who died from a gunshot wound inflicted by her abuser spouse."
In addition to signing Tierne’s Law and urging passage of additional domestic violence bills, Wolf recently gave his support for Marsy’s Law to help crime victims, and made a call-to-action for criminal justice reforms that will enhance the efforts of Tierne’s Law by recommending adoption of a single assessment tool model to be used from pretrial until parole completion, and ensuring a correlation between length of probation and risk in order to structure probation lengths that result in better supervision.