Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, which is aimed at providing equal rights to crime victims in Pennsylvania by ensuring constitutional protections, along with local victim service organizations, said state Rep. Jesse Topper has been presented the Guardian of Victims’ Rights Award.

The Guardian of Victims’ Rights Awards are presented to people who have served as advocates and ambassadors for crime victims across the state, working to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect. Topper is one of the co-sponsors of Marsy’s Law legislation, which is seeking an amendment to ensure that the Pennsylvania Constitution enumerates rights for victims of crime.

“We’re happy to move this amendment forward as we help to establish victims’ rights here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Topper, R-Bedford, said.

Although the state constitution enumerates rights for individuals accused and convicted of crimes, Pennsylvania is one of only nine states that does not afford the same protections to crime victims.

The award was presented on Friday, March 8, during a meeting with Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, as well as Tommy Talks PA and Your Safe Haven.

“I think it’s important to recognize [them] on International Women’s Day... all of the women who are struggling,” Beth Hickey, executive director of Your Safe Haven, said of local crime victims. “We are thankful for Rep. Topper for always being supportive and for co-sponsoring Marsy’s Law for PA.”

Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) recently introduced House Bill 276 for Marsy’s Law, and Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate during this legislative session. For the state constitution to be amended, legislation must pass in two consecutive legislative sessions before being added to the ballot for voter approval. During the 2017-18 legislative session, Marsy’s Law passed unanimously in the state Senate and House.

With significant legislative support, Marsy’s Law is expected to pass both chambers by June, allowing for the measure to appear on the November 2019 ballot for consideration by Pennsylvania voters.

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