HB 2464 expands access to the victim compensation program, allowing more survivors to receive critical help after violence 

HB 2032 would protect the anonymity of sexual assault victims when their cases are being investigated and they are seeking care

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania crime survivors today praised the final passage of critical reforms by the legislature that aim to increase support for victims and improve public safety in the state. Both HB 2464 and HB 2032 were passed in a bipartisan vote, and aim to stop cycles of trauma and make communities safer. Components of these bills have been supported by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ), a national network representing thousands of crime victims throughout Pennsylvania. HB 2464 and HB 2032 achieve the goals outlined by the Safer Pennsylvania Act, which was developed by Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny/Washington) in collaboration with CSSJ. The Safer Pennsylvania Act aims to expand support and protections for crime survivors, as well as prioritize rehabilitation to help address the root causes of crime. An overview of the Safer Pennsylvania Act is available here.

“Today’s passage of HB 2032, and the expanded access to victims compensation which passed in HB 2464, are a testament to the advocacy and courage of so many survivors who made their voices heard. What survivors need most while recovering from trauma is to be in control and empowered in their healing process. This is the first step in reducing barriers to healing and adopting safety policies that work – which is why we urge the legislature to pass the remainder of the Safer Pennsylvania Act. We commend Representatives Schroeder, Delozier, and Mihalek for their leadership on behalf of survivors, and Pennsylvania’s Victims Advocate, Suzanna Estrella for her support. We look forward to Governor Wolf’s signature so we can affirm Pennsylvania’s commitment to lifting up survivors in every community,” said Alexandra Abboud, local crime survivor and Pennsylvania state manager for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.

HB 2464 – sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) – includes policies championed by Rep. Natalie Mihalek and Senator Camera Bartolotta expanding access to the state’s victim compensation program, eliminating the 72-hour time limit for reporting a crime to authorities to qualify for compensation, making sure no survivor is ever denied help with counseling or funeral expenses based on allegations about the victim’s behavior, and extending the time limit to file for compensation from two to five years. HB 2032 – sponsored by Rep. Meghan Schroeder (R-Bucks) – ensures that there are exceptions to the mandatory reporting of identifying information while investigating sexual assault cases, allowing victims to protect their privacy as they seek healthcare and evidence is collected in their case. The bill also directs the Pennsylvania State Police – in consultation with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape – to study how to create and implement a rape kit tracking system that would be accessible to survivors. Both bills are now headed to the governor for his signature.

“We all want safer communities, and the legislature’s passage of these critical victim support bills bring us closer to stopping the cycles of trauma,” said Rep. Meghan Schroeder (R-Bucks). “I’ve been touched by the stories of so many survivors who have advocated for the needs of victims to be part of any safety solutions. I’m proud to elevate their needs with these reforms and I look forward to Governor Wolf’s support to empower victims.”

“A safer Pennsylvania isn’t possible until crime victims are supported and receive the help they need to recover from violence,” said Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Washington/Greene). “This week’s passage of HB 2032 and HB 2464 will ensure that we have safer communities by providing a lifeline to those who are hurting, and stopping cycles of trauma that feed more violence and loss. There is still more work to be done to ensure safer communities, but today is a monumental step towards healing.”

“The legislature has made clear that victims will be heard and public safety is a priority for Pennsylvania,” said Representative Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny/Washington). “For too long, our victim compensation program didn’t provide the full range of support that it was meant to, and survivors were left behind as a result. HB 2464 includes the policies in HB 2028 and SB 708 that help to reduce barriers to healing so that survivors have more time to get an adequate level of support to recover. Together with HB 2032, victims will be protected and able to move forward with their lives. I thank my colleagues Representatives Delozier and Schroeder, and Senator Bartolotta for standing with me in advocating for survivors’ needs as we all seek safety solutions that work.”

About the Alliance for Safety and Justice

Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a multi-state advocacy organization that aims to replace ineffective criminal justice system policies with what works to keep people safe. It partners with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education, and advocacy. It also brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, as part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – its national network of over 90,000 crime survivors that includes over 4,000 survivors from 64 of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties. For more information, visit https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.

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