HARRISBURG – The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46), Vincent Hughes (D-7) and Art Haywood (D-4) to improve communication with crime victims and ensure they receive any compensation they are owed.
Senate Bill 708 is part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a bipartisan package of criminal justice reform bills. The other two pieces of legislation, which strengthened public safety and reduced prison and probation costs, were signed into law in the last legislative session.
The bill would reinvest savings generated through the companion legislation into victim services, streamlining the entire process and making sure more victims receive the help they need.
“Providing for the needs of crime victims is an essential part of the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, in too many cases, victims feel left out of the entire process. My bill would ensure that all victims understand their important role in the system and are not further victimized by the system,” Bartolotta said.
The bill would require the law enforcement officer responding to or investigating an incident to provide basic information about the rights and services available to crime victims, as well as availability of crime victims’ compensation to the direct victim or, if appropriate, a member of the direct victim’s family.
It would also ensure victims know their right to be enrolled into the Address Confidentiality Program, which exempts those who enter the program from providing a public addres and telephone number when their life may be in danger.
Additionally, Senate Bill 708 would change the time a victim can file a claim for compensation from two to five years and lower the minimum threshold of out-of-pocket expenses for filing a claim from $100 to $50.
Senate Bill 708 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Katrina Hanna, 717-787-1463