Begin Main Content Area

​COVID-19 Guidance and Resources

For the health and safety of citizens and employees, OVA services are now being provided by a combination of office staff observing social distancing guidelines and staff members teleworking. OVA continues to provide services to crime victims during this time of crisis.

The best way to reach our office is by email at RA-OVAinfo@pa.gov. However, our phone lines do remain open Monday – Friday 8am – 4pm at 800.563.6399.

For the most up-to-date information on Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health.

Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version

​Victims' Rights in the Time of COVID

​If you are a victim of crime, your rights do not diminish in a time of public health crisis. It remains incumbent upon the courts to adhere to the legal rights of all participants in all justice processes. 

However, the way you receive those rights may look a bit different. For instance, you may be offered the opportunity to provide testimony via virtual means, rather than in person.

If you have questions about how your county is handling victim services and rights during this time, please contact your local victim service agency.

If you feel your rights are being violated, please contact our office immediately.

​Notifications and Testimony

​Under the jurisdiction of OVA, you will continue to receive all post-sentencing rights. This includes notifications about the movement of your offender, state proceedings that may have been moved or are continuing, and the opportunity to provide testimony related to parole eligibility.

OVA team members are working to ensure that all victims/survivors who want to provide testimony are afforded the opportunity to do so. Although in person testimony is difficult right now, alternative means continue to be available to you. Those include:


• Providing verbal comments over the phone to a Victim Assistance Coordinator who will transcribe them and forward them to the PA Parole Board.
• Mailing or emailing your written comments to OVA who will ensure they are provided to the PA Parole Board.

​E-Signature Guidance

​Crime victims should be allowed to use electronic signatures on all legal documents and court filings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Requiring crime victims to submit documents with original or “wet ink” signatures places victims’ physical, mental and emotional health at risk; conflicts with crime victims’ federal and state rights to be treated with fairness and respect; jeopardizes the victim’s and society’s interest in a just resolution of cases; endangers the health of individuals who work within or otherwise use the justice system; and is inconsistent with national, state and local efforts to limit the spread of the virus. (Reference NCVLI response.)

Commonwealth of PA legal documents are now to be accepted electronically, including OVA forms and releases. If you need an electronic copy of an OVA form, please contact our office.

​State Inmate Releases due to COVID

​Under the Governor’s reprieve order, the PA Department of Corrections continues to evaluate inmates incarcerated in state correctional facilities who are close to their potential parole date, as it reduces the risk of spreading the virus within institutions.

OVA is working to ensure that no cases with identified victims are being considered for release. By working with our state partners, we are eliminating personal injury crimes, such as burglary, theft, etc. from consideration. Violent crimes are not being considered for early release.

Please note that normal parole decision making operations are continuing at this time. If you are notified that the offender in your case is being considered for release, that does not mean it is a COVID-related consideration. Your right to provide comments to the PA Parole Board regarding the offender in your case remains intact during this time and an OVA team member will assist you.

​County Inmate Release due to COVID

​Inmates housed in county correctional facilities are not subject to the Governor’s reprieve order; however, at the direction of the Supreme Court – each county is required to review cases in their own facilities to determine if there are inmates appropriate for release. Because each county is different, you should reach out to your district attorney to see what the process is for any early releases.

​Board of Pardons during COVID

​At this time, public hearings will take place at the discretion of the Board of Pardons. Some of these events may be offered virtually. You will continue to receive notifications regarding your offenders’ application status and hearing date, is applicable.

 
Questions regarding crime victims’ services for Board of Pardons, can be directed to RA-PMOVABOP@pa.gov.

Please keep in mind that county victim service agencies remain operational during this time.

• Shelter is still an option for domestic violence victims; many domestic violence shelters are utilizing hotels in order to adhere to CDC guidelines and keep all participants safe.

• Protection from Abuse and Sexual Violence Protective Orders are still obtainable from your county courts as well. While processes and procedures may differ from county to county, you basic rights and services are still being afforded.

Especially during these unprecedented times, it is important to refer to the trained, accredited and monitored professionals. Please continue to access the below resources, which remain open and available to you.

PA ChildLine ​800.932.0313
​PA Coalition Against Rape 888.772.7227
​National Domestic Violence Hotline  800.799.7233
​National Human Trafficking Hotline  888.373.7888
​Suicide Prevention Lifeline ​800.273.8255
​PA Mental Health Text Line 741-741