|Posted:||December 19, 2017 12:37 PM|
|From:||Representative Sheryl M. Delozier|
|To:||All House members|
|Along with Senator Reschenthaler, I will soon introduce legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to add a victims’ bill of rights. While I am pleased to say that Pennsylvania does currently have statutory protections for victims, statutory rights do not rise to the level of a Constitutional guarantee. A Constitutional amendment is the only way to ensure that victims enjoy equal footing with offenders, and the only way to ensure that victims have some kind of redress when their rights are violated.
The amendment we propose will require that the Commonwealth protect the rights of victims no less vigorously than the rights of the accused. It will require notice of hearings and other proceedings, physical and emotional protection from the accused, notice in cases of release or escape, proceedings free from unnecessary delay, the ability to confer with the prosecutor in the case, full and timely restitution from the offender, and notification of all of these rights.
Those of you who know me know that I am a staunch and tireless advocate for victims. In fact, this is the third straight session in which I have sponsored and successfully ushered through the House legislation to strengthen our restitution laws. Crime victim restitution should be one of the most important parts of a healthy criminal justice system, yet all too often, an order for restitution turns out to be nothing more than one more disappointment and source of frustration. I am not satisfied with this reality and I would respectfully suggest that neither should you be. Perhaps when the rights of victims are put on equal footing with the rights of those who committed the crimes against them, things will finally begin to change.
Please join us in sponsoring this critically important joint resolution.
Introduced as HB1993