HARRISBURG – Senators Ryan P. Aument (R-36) and Scott Martin (R-13) supported a package of seven bills today that will protect crime victims and their families.
Several bills in the package are specifically designed to protect victims of domestic violence and their children. Some of the measures include:
- Allowing domestic violence victims who live in public housing to be relocated to another unit (SB 919),
- Ensuring law enforcement protection is available to a victim before or while PFA orders are being served (SB 500),
- Clarifying that district judges can use risk assessment tools when setting bail in domestic violence cases (SB 449),
- Requiring a domestic violence defendant who is ordered by the court to relinquish firearms to surrender the weapons to law enforcement or a third-party dealer (SB 501),
- Making it easier for domestic violence victims to remove the name of an abuser from a shared telephone plan (SB 313),
- Facilitating the extension of a PFA order when an abuser is released from custody (SB 502).
Last year, Pennsylvania provided support to more than 89,000 victims of domestic violence.
“The consequences of even one abuser slipping through the cracks in the criminal justice system can be catastrophic,” Aument said. “These bills seek to address weaknesses in the system that abusers can exploit to continue to terrorize their victims.”
“We’ve seen too many victims of domestic violence face ongoing threats that can often end in senseless tragedy,” Martin said. “It is critical to protect victims, while at the same time preserving individuals’ due process rights in regards to the Second Amendment.”
The crime victim protection package also includes Senate Bill 1011, which would amend the state Constitution to create a crime victims’ Bill of Rights. Also known as Marsy’s Law, the legislation would ensure that victims of crimes are provided notice of hearings and other proceedings; protection from the accused; notice of release or escape; full and timely restitution; proceedings free from delays and with prompt conclusion; the ability to confer with the government’s attorney; and information on all of these rights.
“The purpose of the criminal justice system is not just to incarcerate individuals who pose a danger to society. The goal is to ensure innocent victims are protected against criminals,” Martin said. “These bills seek to ensure the rights of victims are protected every bit as vigorously as the rights of the accused.”
“Pennsylvania is one of the few states in the nation that does not address victims’ rights in the state Constitution,” Aument said. “Passing this law will help create a better balance between the rights of criminals and victims, while at the same time opening the lines of communication between victims and the judicial system.”
Six of the bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration. Senate Bill 449, also known as Tierne’s Law, was already approved by the House and was sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
CONTACT: Jake Smeltz (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument)
Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Senator Martin)