ROYERSFORD – July 17, 2019 – Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks, Chester, Montgomery) applauded the governor’s signing of six bills that help to ensure and protect the rights of crime victims in Pennsylvania.
“It is important to include the rights of victims in criminal justice reform efforts,” said Muth. “Criminal justice and victims’ rights are not exclusive from one another, they are part of the larger effort to create a justice system that is fair to all.”
Muth was a co-sponsor for Senate Bill 399, which was part of the legislative package signed into law.
SB 399 strengthens the rights of crime victims by updating the Sexual Assault Testing and Evidence Collection Act by requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to improve procedures for anonymous victims and implement timelines for submitting, testing, and storing rape kits.
Muth voted for passage of the other bills signed into law, including:
- Senate Bill 469 to protect victims and witness with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder when they are testifying or questioned outside of a courtroom;
- Senate Bill 479 to expand the list of crimes that an out-of-court statement made by a child under the age of 12 can be used;
- House Bill 315 to criminalize female genital mutilation and classify the act as a first-degree felony;
- House Bill 502 to amend the Crime Victims Act by allowing the presence of the victim in any criminal proceeding unless the court determines the victim’s testimony would be altered by hearing additional witnesses; and
- House Bill 504 to prevent prosecutors from using or mentioning a victims’ sexual history or prior sexual abuse allegations while prosecuting certain crimes.
Muth is proud to have co-sponsored and cast positive votes for these legislative efforts that will provide additional rights to victims of crime but believes there is more work to be done.
“The bills signed into law this week are all commonsense measures that should’ve been passed years ago,” said Muth. “The pathway to justice is still unnecessarily long and painful for many and we have major work to do.
Muth is calling for support and passage of SB540, which would abolish the statute of limitations for victims of sexual violence and abuse. She is urging her colleagues to make SB540 a priority to be passed in the upcoming fall session.
“We have to continue to demand for a truly just system that protects victims, not perpetrators.”