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The Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) is dedicated to representing, protecting and advancing the individual and collective rights and interests of crime victims.
As such, OVA works diligently on key initiatives that impact crime victims/survivors in Pennsylvania. Some initiatives involve reshaping our state services to provide the best level of trauma informed care, while some require legislative action to change, modify or reform our laws and require bringing local and state partners together.
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Over the years there have been many attempts to eliminate life sentences for First and Second Degree Murder in PA. Due to the overwhelming outrage of surviving family members in response to recent legislation calling for parole eligibility of inmates serving life sentences for First Degree Murder, OVA made the swift decision not to support parole eligibility for these convictions.
In order to best represent the community of victims of Second Degree Murder, a survey was mailed to registered survivors in January 2019. A separate data analysis team provided the analytics back to our office. Read the summary here.
While there is not overwhelming support among survivors for reform of life sentences right now, OVA is committed to continuing to work with all stakeholders on areas of reform we can agree upon. Medical parole, geriatric parole, and parole eligibility for those in prior domestic violence relationships are all being considered at this time. As always, OVA aims to represent the majority of the victims it has registered within the Commonwealth who would be directly impacted by this legislative change, ie those family members of loved ones who were murdered and have an offender serving a life sentence for either First Degree or Second Degree Murder.
Crime victims/survivors are encouraged to register with OVA to ensure representation of their opinions and ensure notification of all events in their respective case.