House Judiciary Committee approves victims’ rights and anti-hazing bills

HARRISBURG, PA — Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania was approved by the House Judiciary Committee today.  The bill (S.B. 1011), which would amend the state constitution to protect the rights of crime victims and their families, will now be presented for a vote by the full House.

“I’m excited about the potential to move the bill through this crucial first phase,” said Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, sponsor of the House version of the bill and a Judiciary Committee member. “Amending the constitution is a long process, and I thank my colleagues on the committee for acting quickly to give crime victims a protected position in the criminal justice system.”

The proposed constitutional amendment would ensure crime victims have the right to:

  • Receive information about their rights
  • Receive notification of proceedings in their criminal cases
  • Be present at court proceedings
  • Be heard at plea and sentencing proceedings
  • Be treated with fairness, respect and dignity

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. A week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Dr. Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, fresh from visiting Marsy’s grave, was unaware that he had been released on bail. To honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.

State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Allegheny, is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 1011.

Governor Wolf applauded the committee vote on Marsy’s Law and another anti-hazing bill, the  Timothy J. Piazza Law , proposed by Senator Jake Corman.

“I thank the members of the House Judiciary Committee for advancing two important bills to provide more rights to crime victims and hold those who commit hazing accountable. Marsy’s Law will amend the state constitution to provide crime victims with equal protections and participation in the process. Victims and their families deserve equity. Hazing is antithetical to the experience we want for college students and others in Pennsylvania. We must give law enforcement the tools that they need to hold people accountable and we must ensure schools have proper safeguards to protect students and curb hazing.

“It is my hope that these two bills will help protect victims and provide more tools to law enforcement. I remain hopeful that the House will also advance the important bills in front of them from the Senate to protect victims of domestic violence. These bills are essential to reducing the number of victims, especially those killed by their abusers.”