Marsy’s Law Plans to Build on 2018 Successes in Pennsylvania
The commonwealth is one of only nine states without victims’ rights embedded in constitution
Harrisburg, PA (December 17, 2018) -- As state lawmakers prepare for a new legislative session that starts in January, Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, an effort to add victims’ rights to the state constitution, is preparing for the next phase of passing the needed amendment.
Marsy’s Law provides equal rights for victims of crime — stipulating that victims’ rights are to be protected no less vigorously than the rights afforded the accused — including the right to be heard, the right to be present, the right to confer with the prosecutor, the right to have their safety weighed during bail decisions, the right to full and timely restitution, the right to be notified of all court-related events and the release of the offender, and the right to speak in court at sentencing and before the parole board or board of pardons.
During the 2017-18 legislative session, Marsy’s Law (Senate Bill 1011), sponsored by State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny/Washington), passed unanimously in the state Senate and House. The measure must be reintroduced and approved in the 2019-20 session, and then it needs ballot approval from voters before it can be added to the state constitution.
In addition to unanimous passage by both chambers, 2018 successes included:
Support from statewide victims’ services groups, including the Office of the Victim Advocate, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
Endorsements from all levels of law enforcement, including the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and Pennsylvania State Constables Association
A resolution in support of Marsy’s Law, sponsored by councilwomen Blondell Reynolds Brown and Cherelle Parker, passed unanimously by the Philadelphia City Council
Nationally, Marsy’s Law passed constitutional amendments in six states: 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 Pennsylvania plans to build upon the 2018 successes by working with preeminent victims’ rights champion, State Representative Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), to introduce Marsy’s Law in the House of Representatives in January 2019.
With significant legislative support, Marsy’s Law is expected to pass both chambers by June, allowing for the measure to appear on the November 2019 ballot for consideration by Pennsylvania voters.
Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania will be kicking off its 2019 efforts in January during a news conference in the Capitol rotunda.