On your Nov. 5 ballot you will read the following:
“Shall the Pennsylvania constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them. “
A YES vote means approval of the constitutional amendment.
A NO vote means disapproval of the constitutional amendment.
League Explanation of Issue:
Pennsylvania has existing statutory laws supporting crime victims, specifically the Crime Victims Act of 1998. Marsy’s Law would go further altering the state constitution to expand existing statutory rights to ensure that crime victims and their families have a meaningful role throughout criminal and juvenile justice systems; provide crime victims with specific constitutional rights, including the right to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety, dignity, and privacy; to be notified about and present at proceedings; to be heard at proceedings involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole of the accused; to a prompt conclusion of the case; to reasonable protection from the accused or those acting on behalf of the accused; to be notified about release or escape of the accused; to refuse an interview, deposition or discovery at the request of the accused; and full and timely restitution from the individual or entity convicted of the criminal offense.
1. This proposed amendment will increase the legal rights and privileges of victims and their families.
2. It will ensure victims and their families are informed when the accused offender is released from custody.
3. It will require crime victims be informed of their rights.
4. It will protect victims and their families from the accused, or from those assisting the accused.
1. The amendment would override state law, eliminating judges’ abilities to weigh the rights of victims and defendants.
2. The amendment would alter nine provisions of the constitution without submitting each constitutional change separately as a ballot question as required by the PA Supreme Court.
3. Victims are already protected by the PA Crime Victims Act of 1998.
4. Victims could refuse to be interviewed or to turn over pertinent evidence or testimony.
5. Passage would create additional costs and needs on law enforcement, courts and government officials.
Proponents: Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania campaign, Governor Wolf, Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association
Opponents: ACLU of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
- Crime Victims Act of Nov. 24, 1998
- LWVPA’s full statement
- ACLUPA statement
- Philadelphia Inquirer article: ACLU files suit to stop victims’ rights ballot measure
- Reading Eagle article: Marsy’s Law, explained: What you need to know about the crime victims’ rights measure on the November 5 ballot