|Posted:||November 16, 2017 02:07 PM|
|From:||Senator Guy Reschenthaler|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Marsy’s Law – Constitutional Amendment Creating a Victims "Bill of Rights"|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation beginning the process of amending the state constitution to grant victims inherent rights. The language I am using is the product of a collaboration among Pennsylvania's Office of Victim Advocate, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, various victims' rights groups, and the national Marsy’s Law Project.
While many states, including Pennsylvania, have laws designed to enumerate the ways in which a victim can interact with the judicial system, there are no provisions in those statutes to ensure compliance.
Pennsylvania is one of 15 states whose constitution is silent on victims’ rights. I agree with the aims of the national Marsy’s Law project that states’ constitutions should balance the rights of perpetrators with the rights of victims. To date, six states have passed such a strengthened constitutional amendment: California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and, most recently, Ohio.
The intent of this legislation is to ensure that victims are allowed to be an integral part of the system. The constitutional amendment requires that, for the criminal and juvenile justice systems, the enumerated rights of victims are to be protected no less vigorously than the rights afforded the accused. It stipulates that there be notice of hearings and other proceedings, protection from the accused, notice of release or escape, full and timely restitution, proceedings free from delays and with prompt conclusion, the ability to confer with the government’s attorney and information on all of these rights.
I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions please contact my office at 717-787-5839.
* A previous version of this memo unintentionally omitted Pennsylvania's Office of Victim Advocate
Introduced as SB1011