Iowans who ask a judge to issue a “no-contact” order against someone they fear now can sign up to get nearly instant notification when that order is enforced.
Under previous practice, people had to call the county sheriff’s office to find out if or when the protective order had been received or “served” by a deputy.
Now, under a new automated system, people can get a phone call or an email when that protective order is in force — and when it expires.
“For the offender to know that there’s one more system in place that watches them and gives assistance to victims, one more sign that society on the side of the victim and supportive of the victim is important,” says Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
Last year 15,000 Iowans — mostly women — asked a judge to issue a no-contact order against a person they feared. Janelle Melohn– director of the state’s Crime Victim Assistance Division — says in the past seven and a half years, at least 59 Iowa women who had left or were leaving an abuser were killed.
“Knowing when their abuser has been served with a protective order can allow a victim to enact their safety plan and be alert to possible, impending violence,” Melohn says. “It can allow her to help ensure the safety of her children and the rest of her family as well.”
Jennifer Stimson, the manager of this new program, says Iowa is one of 12 states that is now providing email or phone call notification of no-contact orders.
“This is up and running as of today,” Stimson says. “Victims can start registered now, if they would like.”
Victims can go to www.registervpo.com or call 1-888-742-8463 to register.
AUDIO of news conference announcing the system.
Iowa received a federal grant to pay for start-up costs. It costs about $160,000 a year to run the system.