Marsy’s Law approved by House of Representatives
Constitutional amendment, which would provide equal enforceable rights for crime victims, passes in second legislative session during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
HARRISBURG (April 8, 2019) — Today marked a major victory for crime victims across Pennsylvania, as the state House of Representatives approved Marsy’s Law with bipartisan support. The Pennsylvania Constitution enumerates rights for individuals accused and convicted of crimes, but it does not provide protections for victims. Marsy’s Law would grant victims rights on par with those of the accused.
“It is time to correct the disparity that currently exists between the rights of the accused and the rights of crime victims. I commend my colleagues in the House for recognizing the value in this important legislation and for voting to approve House Bill 276. I look forward to passage in the Senate and then taking it to the voters on the November ballot to change the Pennsylvania Constitution,” said Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland.
For the state constitution to be amended, legislation must pass in two consecutive legislative sessions before being added to the ballot for voter approval. Sen. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia, is sponsoring the bill in the Senate during this legislative session.
“We are grateful for the support of the House of Representatives for voting in favor of Marsy’s Law today, marking a crucial phase in the process of amending the state constitution. Victims of crime in Pennsylvania are now one step closer to being treated with the level of dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Jennifer Riley, state director of Marsy’s Law for PA.
The House vote came on the heels of a rally at the state Capitol today in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which was created in 1981 to promote laws, policies and programs to help victims of crime.
The rally was hosted by the Crime Victims Alliance of Pennsylvania and the PA Office of the Victim Advocate. Speakers included Jennifer Storm, Commonwealth Victim Advocate; Rep. Delozier and Sen. Sabatina, sponsors of Marsy’s Law; members of the Crime Victims’ Rights Rally Committee; and crime survivors from across the state. A resolution declaring Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Pennsylvania was sponsored by Governor Tom Wolf, Rep. Delozier and Sen. Sabatina.
Marsy’s Law passed constitutional amendments in six states in 2018: Nevada, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. With the implementation of Marsy’s Law in those states, Pennsylvania became one of only nine states that does not incorporate victims’ rights into its constitution.
Marsy’s Law for PA would ensure crime victims have the following rights:
To receive information about their rights
To receive notification of proceedings in their criminal cases
To assert additional statutory rights
To be present at court proceedings
To be heard at plea and sentencing proceedings
To be treated with fairness, respect and dignity
Marsy's Law for Pennsylvania now goes to the Senate for final approval. And with significant legislative support, Marsy’s Law is expected to appear on the ballot in Pennsylvania for voter approval in November 2019.