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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 28, 2019 09:18 AM
From: Representative Stephen Kinsey and Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, Rep. Bridget M. Kosierowski
To: All House members
Subject: Secure Waiting Areas in Courthouses and Hospitals
One of the most difficult things a victim or witness of a crime could do is testify in open court against an offender. For victims, this often means re-living the trauma of an attack. For witnesses, it means the recounting of the distressing details of a crime. To add to the already stressful conditions in the courtroom, victims and witnesses may be forced to confront defendants outside the courtroom or while recovering in a hospital, potentially leading to intimidation.

The Crime Victims Act of 1998 established safe and secure waiting areas in courts across the Commonwealth in order to keep victims safe from intimidation by defendants and their associates. Our proposal further defines these safe waiting areas and directs the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to set standards for their construction. It also requires the same secure waiting areas to be available in hospitals, to protect victims when they are in their most vulnerable state. Furthermore, our proposal guarantees these secure waiting areas be available to similarly vulnerable groups: witnesses, attorneys, and family members of victims.

We believe that as state legislators, we have a responsibility to protect victims and witnesses from further violence and intimidation. Please join our vision to enhance victims’ rights and safety in Pennsylvania.

Introduced as HB1815