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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2016 01:59 PM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Crime Victim Representation on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee within PCCD
I am re-introducing legislation amending the Crime Victims Act in an effort to provide broader representation of crime victims on the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee (VSAC) within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

This committee provides perspectives on behalf of all crime victims/survivors in the development of the Commission’s policies, funding priorities, legislation and outcomes. Specifically, the Victims’ Services Advisory Committee advises the Commission in the direct approval and disbursement of financial assistance and reviews and comments on applications from crime victim assistance organizations seeking funding through PCCD.

The Victims’ Services Advisory Committee helps PCCD determine the funding priorities and grant awards made through various funding streams, including those received under the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). In 2016 alone, PCCD received $88 million in VOCA funding to support direct services, such as emergency shelter, crisis intervention, counseling and assistance in participating in the criminal justice system. These dollars Pennsylvania receive annually are a great opportunity for PCCD to reach underserved crime victim populations in addition to continuing substantial support to current victim service providers. I believe we need to ensure the committee best reflects the needs of the demographics of crime victims we have in Pennsylvania.

In addition to enabling two residents of the Commonwealth to be appointed by the chairman of PCCD to the committee, my legislation increases the VSAC members appointed by the Governor to it from nine to 17 and specifies the following representation among those members:

• A direct victim of crime who shall represent female victims;
• A direct victim of crime who shall represent male victims;
• An Area Agency on Aging;
• Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
• Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape;
• Pennsylvania Chapter of Children’s Advocacy Centers and Multidisciplinary Teams;
• Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Association;
• A county Children and Youth Agency;
• A prosecution-based victim/witness program;
• A victim service or advocacy organization;
• The courts;
• County government;
• The executive director of the Juvenile Court Judges Commission;
• A children’s advocacy center or victim services agency working directly with children;
• Local law enforcement;
• A mental health treatment provider; and
• A victim services agency working directly with victims of human trafficking.

Overall, the committee will go from 15 members to 25 members and provided a more well-rounded representation of crime victims. Several of these crime victims, organizations, and entities are already represented on the committee and will remain so under my legislation.

This legislation was Senate Bill 1113 of last session and co-sponsors were Senators Browne, Rafferty, Fontana, Farnese, Mensch, Brewster, Yudichak, Sabatina, Brooks and Hughes.

Introduced as SB260