PA lawmakers push for bill to protect victims of violent crimes after convicted killer gives commencement speech
Lawmakers say if the bill was a law today it would have prevented Abu-Jamal from recording a commencement speech that was played over the weekend in Vermont. The Pennsylvania Office of Victims Advocates says its appalled and disgusted with Abu-Jamal's actions. They say this bill finally gives victims of violent crimes the ability to heal.
"Why should the voice of a man be heard when the man has violently and wan tingly taken the voice of another innocent man by murdering him in cold blood."
Those are words written by Maureen Faulker, the wife of Daniel Faulkner. Daniel Faulkner was gunned down by Abu-Jamal in 1981. Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to the death penalty but his sentence was later reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Abu-Jamal has received international support for his claims he was victimized by a racist justice system. He graduated from Goddard College in 1996. On Sunday he gave a video recorded commencement speech.
Corbett says the college has a consitutional right to choose its own commencement speaker, but he's questioning the school's taste. Goddard College describes Abu-Jamal as, "an award winning journalist who chronicles the human condition." Our request for an on camera interview was not returned. Now lawmakers want to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.
"It is now time that the voice of the victim's be louder than the cowards that sit behind concrete and steel," says State Representative, Mike Vereb, representing the 150th legislative district.
If passed the bill would allow crime victims to seek civil action in court. The Attorney General, District Attorney, or victim's representative would be able to ask a judge to review the facts of what's being presented. The bill passed the house judiciary committee unanimously. It now moves onto the house for a vote.