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Office of the Victim Advocate

In every community, there is work to be done.

In every nation, there are wounds to heal.

In every heart, there is the power to do it.

                                         - Marianne Williamson | Teacher, Author, Lecturer

 

An Important Message from the Victim Advocate

On Friday, February 13, Governor Tom Wolf announced a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania that will remain in effect until the Governor has received and reviewed the forthcoming report and recommendation of the bipartisan Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on capital punishment. His full statement is below.

“Governor Wolf took today’s action only after significant consideration and reflection, but this reprieve is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes, and all of whom must be held to account. The guilty deserve no compassion and Governor Wolf has deep appreciation for the work of victim advocates and sympathy for all of those who have suffered at the hands of violence. This decision is based on a flawed system that is ineffective, many times unjust, and expensive. If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is going to take the irrevocable step of executing a human being, its capital sentencing system must be unfailing. In the past 40 years, 434 death warrants have been signed, three individuals in the late 90’s elected to not seek stays and were executed, the rest were stayed. One inmate has been scheduled for execution for 6 times, which means 6 times, survivors found themselves preparing for the sentence to be carried out, and 6 times this did not happen. Simply stated, this is unacceptable. Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel assures survivors that the conditions of confinement for those on death row will not be affected by this moratorium, all who are currently in the capital case unit will remain on throughout.”

The Office of the Victim Advocate is strongly committed to ensuring that each and every crime victim whose offender is currently serving a death sentence is made aware of the moratorium announced today by Governor Wolf in a sensitive and timely manner. Our staff are working hard to contact the hundreds of people that will be affected by today’s news. We understand how upsetting this news can be for the hundreds of crime victims who have had to endure the emotional roller coaster of the death penalty process in Pennsylvania. We hope the bipartisan Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment takes swift action in concluding their report in a comprehensive manner so that a resolution to this moratorium can occur, and our crime victims are no longer held in legal limbo as to the status of their offenders case.

If you are a victim of an offender who is currently serving a death row sentence in the state of Pennsylvania, and you wish to receive services from the Office of the Victim Advocate please call us at 1.800.322.4472 or via email at  ra-ovainfo@pa.gov. If you need immediate assistance you can use our county resource map to find a crisis counselor in your area http://www.ova.pa.gov/Services/Resources/LocateaVictimServiceAgency/Pages/default.aspx

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