Close to 200 Crime Survivors from Across the State Call for Reforms, Hold a Vigil in Memory of Loved Ones
Survivors and Elected Officials Advocate for Expanded Victim Services and Rehabilitation Programs to Reduce Crime and Improve Public Safety
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Hundreds of crime survivors and families of murdered Pennsylvanians rallied at the state capitol today to urge lawmakers to expand support for crime victims and promote safer communities. Crime survivors were joined by elected officials at Survivors Speak Pennsylvania – an annual event hosted by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) – with families holding photos of murdered loved ones and advocating for proven public safety reforms.
Members of CSSJ are leading the fight for effective safety reforms in the state. Last year, CSSJ’s Pennsylvania chapter collaborated with Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny/Washington) to develop the Safer Pennsylvania Act. The legislative package aims to increase resources and protections for crime victims and improve incarcerated people’s access to rehabilitation, proven to reduce recidivism. In June 2021, Rep. Mihalek – along with a group of Republican women lawmakers – introduced the act.
“The General Assembly annually considers dozens of bills to address the Commonwealth’s increasing crime rates, but we have to prioritize the families who have dealt with some horrific tragedies,” said State Representative Natalie Mihalek (R – Allegheny, Washington Counties). “The bills in this package aim to support victims, improve rehabilitation and reduce recidivism, ultimately making our neighborhoods safer.”
“Pennsylvania needs to do more to help victims of violent crime,” said Alexandra Abboud, Pennsylvania state manager for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “We’ve seen in every corner of this state that survivors and families need support to heal and recover after violence. The Safer Pennsylvania Act will ensure that they have the crucial resources to get their lives on track and lift up their communities.”
“When my son was shot, my world shattered around me,” said Tina Ford, crime survivor and member of Pennsylvania Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, whose son Armani was murdered in 2019. “Families of crime victims need compensation to help pick up the pieces after a tragedy and afford essentials like burials and mental health care. Yes, the road to recovery is long, but actions taken by lawmakers can make it an easier path.”
During an emotional press conference and vigil, Tina and other CSSJ survivors called for the passage of the Safer Pennsylvania Act, which will:
- Protect housing and employment for vulnerable Pennsylvania crime survivors
- Improve victims’ access to compensation
- Increase and incentivize rehabilitative programs to reduce recidivism
“Public safety policies should focus on meeting the needs of crime victims, stopping the cycle of crime, and reducing recidivism,” said Aswad Thomas, gun violence survivor and national director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “With the Safer Pennsylvania Act, lawmakers have an opportunity to invest in programs that are proven to increase public safety, improve the lives of the state’s most vulnerable crime victims, and bring healing to communities most harmed by violence.”
ABOUT CRIME SURVIVORS FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is a national network of crime survivors, including nearly 5,000 members across Pennsylvania, joining together to create healing communities and shape public safety policy. With over 90,000 members and growing, including chapters and leaders across the country, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is building a movement to promote public safety policies that help the people and communities most harmed by violence. The organization is a flagship project of Alliance for Safety and Justice.
For more information, visit: https://cssj.org/.
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