Amid Gun Violence Crisis, As State Takes Center Stage in National Debate, Crime Survivors Issue Comprehensive Agenda to Support Victims and Break Cycles of Violence

PHILADELPHIA – With escalating gun-related crime across the state, and as Philadelphia’s youth in particular face rising violence, Pennsylvania will play a pivotal role in the 2024 Presidential election, as both a key swing state and the example that pundits hold up to confirm voters’ fears of crime. Against this backdrop, the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) and Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) today released Strengthening Healing and Safety: Policy Recommendations to Better Support Crime Victims in Pennsylvania. The comprehensive set of policy recommendations aim to prevent revictimization of vulnerable crime victims and communities and address urgent needs to proactively break cycles of community violence.

Informed by the voices of nearly 8,000 members of CSSJ in Pennsylvania, the agenda presents key priorities that advance safety and healing. These priorities include:

  • Provide ongoing funding for Victim Compensation and Assistance Program (VCAP): The program, which helps survivors cover crime-related expenses, is currently funded by unstable fines and fees. The agenda calls for stable funding through general fund revenue to ensure all survivors get the help they need to return to their lives safer and stronger. 
  • Strengthen victims’ compensation: By reducing red tape and expanding access to help, Pennsylvania can lead the way in supporting survivors. This includes accepting alternative documentation to police reports, raising expense caps, and streamlining access to emergency help.
  • Grow a network of PA Trauma Recovery Centers (TRCs): Pennsylvania currently has only one TRC, located in Harrisburg, despite the widespread need for trauma care among survivors of violence. The agenda calls for increased funding to bring  TRCs to more communities.
  • Support survivor-led victim services: Community-based organizations play a critical role in serving crime victims. Survivors who are providing peer-support want multiyear flexible funding so these organizations can meet victims’ needs, especially in neighborhoods with concentrated violence.
  • Expand PA victim rights: The agenda calls for more legal protections for survivors, including ensuring safe and stable jobs and housing, and protections for survivors charged or sentenced in the criminal justice system.
  • Increase community-level violence prevention, rehabilitation, and reentry programs. Survivors overwhelmingly support violence prevention efforts and want rehabilitation prioritized over punishment. They urge lawmakers to fund local infrastructure for prevention, incentivized rehabilitation for people serving time or on supervision, and reentry support for people coming home.
  • Create more ways for people with old records to clear them. Old criminal records create significant barriers to employment, housing, health care, and supporting one’s family. Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law was at the forefront of record clearing reform, now survivors are urging the state to build on this foundation and expand record relief.


“Every Pennsylvanian impacted by crime deserves a pathway to healing and justice,” said Aswad Thomas, a gun violence victim and the vice president of ASJ and national director of CSSJ. “This agenda not only addresses the urgent needs of victims but also lays the groundwork for safer, more resilient communities across the state.”

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Victims Agenda, visit


About the Alliance for Safety and Justice

The Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a multi-state public safety organization that aims to replace over-incarceration with more effective public safety solutions rooted in crime prevention, community health, rehabilitation, and support for crime victims. ASJ partners with state leaders and advocates to achieve safety and justice reforms through advocacy, organizing, coalition building, research, and communications. For more information, visit


About Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice  

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) is a national network of more than 200,000 crime victims advocating for a justice system that prioritizes healing, prevention, and recovery. CSSJ is a flagship project of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. For more information, visit