Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a package of legislation to increase support and protections for victims of crimes.
Last year, Gov. Wolf implored the Pennsylvania General Assembly to prioritize passing legislative reforms to empower, protect and support victims of crimes.
On Monday, Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm joined the Governor at the ceremonial signing of six legislative reforms.
In a statement, Gov. Wolf said, “We’re here today to recognize a successful joint effort at bringing a package of bills across the finish line that will help ensure Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system supports victims.”
He added that the package of legislation enables prosecutors to easily seek justice for victims. The legislation removes some factors preventing victims from reporting the violence committed against them.
Gov. Wolf emphasized that crime victims “deserve the most support we can possible give them.”
On the other hand, Ms. Storm commented, “This legislative session has been unprecedented and historic in its passage of laws that seek to protect crime victims in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Six pro-victim bills signed into law
- House Bill 315 amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues to add a section that criminalizes female genital mutilation as a first-degree felony.
• House Bill 502 amends the Crime Victims Act to give victims of crimes to be present in any criminal proceedings unless the court determines that he/she will change her testimony by hearing other witnesses.
• House Bill 504 prevents prosecutors from bringing up the victim’s sexual history or prior allegations of sexual abuse while prosecuting certain crimes.
- Senate Bill 399 adds a provision in the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to create procedures for anonymous victims and establishing timelines for submitting, testing, and storing rape kits.
• Senate Bill 469 establishes procedures protecting victims and witnesses with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder.
- Senate Bill 479 expands the list of crimes for which an out-of-court statement made by a child under 12 can be used.