Senate Passes Bill Providing Greater Protections to Crime Victims

 

HARRISBURG – In an effort to better protect victims of crime, the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46), Vincent Hughes (D-7) and Art Haywood (D-4) that would help improve communications with victims and ensure they receive any compensation they are owed.

In 2012, the General Assembly approved legislation based on a comprehensive analysis of extensive data produced by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), a bipartisan working group comprised of legislators, stakeholders and advocates of criminal justice reform.

During the previous legislative session, lawmakers worked to continue the progress made by introducing a package of bills. Two of these proposals, which strengthened public safety and reduced prison and probation costs, were signed into law as Acts 114 and 115 of 2019.

The third component to this package is Senate Bill 708, which would reinvest savings generated through the companion legislation into victim services and streamline the entire process in order for victims to receive the help they need.

“All too often crime victims are forced to figure out how to advocate for themselves. This bill will help them navigate a system that is foreign to them so that they receive the necessary information, when they need it, and the compensation they deserve,” Bartolotta said. “Providing for the needs of crime victims is an essential part of the criminal justice system and this legislation will aid in that process.”

Senate Bill 708 broadens the timeframes victims’ compensation may be sought and expands critical access to compensation. It requires the law enforcement officer responding to or investigating an incident to provide basic information about the rights and services available to crime victims.

Among other changes, the bill would ensure victims know their right to be enrolled into the Address Confidentiality Program, which exempts those who enter the program from providing a public address and telephone number when their life may be in danger.

Senate Bill 708 received unanimous support in the Senate andnow advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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CONTACT: Katrina Hanna, 717-787-1463