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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: October 15, 2021 11:19 AM
From: Senator Patrick M. Browne and Sen. Kim L. Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Notification to family members of a murder victim
We are introducing legislation that amends the Crime Victims Act to provide better notification to surviving family members of a murder victim.

This legislation will require law enforcement to make reasonable efforts to ensure the victim's next-of-kin has been notified of the death before publicly releasing the murder victim's identity, except when identifying the victim before then is necessary to the investigation of the crime or prosecution of the perpetrator. Medical personnel will be prohibited from releasing victim's identity within 24-hours from when the next-of-kin was notified of the death by either medical personnel or law enforcement.

The media attention around a murder creates a unique situation for the victim’s family, particularly with instantaneous news and social media. Often, the family has no idea their loved one’s name has been released to the media before they themselves learned of their loss or had the chance to notify close family and friends. Families need a minimal amount of time to learn the circumstances of the death, a small window to personally inform those closest to the victim, and the ability to gain a basic understanding of the status of the criminal investigation before the media and public scrutiny intrude upon their grief.  There have been cases in both of our districts where the family learned details of the murdered family member from media reports. 

We hope that you will join us in cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1040