The Lancaster County Sheriff and District Attorney are hoping increased education will result in few individuals violating protection-from-abuse orders.
About 1,000 individuals in Lancaster County are served each year with PFA orders. Hundreds are violated every year.
Those individuals will now receive, along with the PFA order, an instructional brochure on what they legally can and can not do.
Lancaster County officials say individuals served with PFAs don’t always understand their rights. A violation – such as contacting the protected person directly or through a third-party - can land an offender in prison.
“This is to give them some answers and perspective, and some places to turn rather than frustration and anger,” District Attorney Craig Stedman said Tuesday.
The brochures give thorough instructions to individuals served while keeping in mind the persons being protected: those who filed the petitions.
“We do not want anyone to get hurt and we do not want anyone arrested,” Stedman said, noting violations will still be prosecuted as they always have.
Stedman’s office produced the brochures for distribution by deputy sheriffs and police officers. Sheriff Mark Reese’s deputies serve most PFAs here, with assistance by police in some cases.
About 1,000 PFA petitions are filed in Lancaster County each year, county records show.
Last year, 973 new petitions were filed, a decrease from previous years: 1,033 in 2014, 1,060 in 2013, 1,188 in 2012.
Hundreds of PFA orders are violated each year, records show.
“We recognize the PFA process is emotionally charged and results in about 200 violations a year,” Stedman said. “We want to reduce that number.
“The goal here is education and prevention.”
Stedman credited Sheriff Reese and Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker for their collaboration on the project.
“The pamphlets are provided so those who have been served a PFA understand what their rights are, how to appropriately respond and avoid unnecessary problems,” Sheriff Reese said Tuesday.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright