In this week's paper, I have a story about a new Caring Unlimited report that shed lights on what happens in the courtroom during domestic violence case hearings. (I'll put the link up once it's available online.) I wasn't able to catch York County DA Mark Lawrence, whose office prosecutes such cases, before my deadline, but I was able to speak with him this afternoon.
"I thought there were many constructive comments in there," he said, pointing out that he is already implementing several of Caring Unlimited's recommendations. For instance, Lawrence's entire staff is trained on the ODARA program, which helps identify possible repeat DV offenders. He hopes evenutally it will become a universal standard for classifying DV perpetrators.
He, Caring Unlimited's Cynthia Peoples, and York County Sheriff Maurice Oullette have been meeting to discuss these issues since January, Lawrence said. One of the matters under their review is bail sentencing. Motions to amend bail (to allow increased contact between a victim and the alleged abuser) "have
a dramatic effect
on our case," he said. "The victims' participation decreases, often dramatically." This issue was also highlighted in the Caring Unlimited report (which will also be available online, with my story, when it all goes online).
With the help of federal grant money, Lawrence is hoping to create a team of prosecutors with jury-trial experience who focus only on domestic-violence cases.