New law ensures crime victims and families can speak up during parole process
HARRISBURG — Crime victims and their families on Tuesday won the right to speak to the Board of Probation and Parole when it considers releasing a person who committed a crime against them.
“This bill levels the playing field and treats victims with the respect they deserve,” said Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery County, the bill's sponsor.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed Act 14 of 2013, which allows victims or their representatives to appear personally before the parole board and testify in connection with an inmate's application for parole. The law, which will take effect Sept. 1, was sparked by a well publicized Montgomery County case involving a woman killed by her husband.
Rafael Robb, an economics professor, received a five- to 10-year prison sentence for killing his wife, Ellen Gregory Robb, in 2006. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for beating her to death while she wrapped Christmas presents.
She was beaten so badly that a police officer said her injuries “looked like a shotgun blast in the face,” said her brother, Gary Gregory.
The parole board late last year approved Robb's parole but rescinded its decision in January because of intense media coverage and public protests.
Vereb, a former police officer, said the law should bring some comfort to crime victims.
“It certainly helps to ensure that Rafael Robb and other threats to society like him stay behind bars upon in-person testimony from crime victims and their families,” Vereb said.
Vereb said the law clarifies that victims and family members have the right to testify in person or video conference. Previously, they could write letters or call the parole board.
“We have an obligation to honor the rights and sometimes the memories of the people who have suffered from crime,” Corbett said. “That is what House Bill 492 is intended to do: Remove any obstacles or misunderstanding that might diminish the voices of victims, their representatives or their survivors.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman advocated for the law.
“Crime victims across Pennsylvania were not being given their rights because their voices were not being truly heard under the current parole process,” Ferman said. “Luckily, that will now change.”
The Probation and Parole board supported the bill, as did other agencies and groups including the Attorney General's Office, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Fitting in will be Kang’s biggest hurdle
- LaBar: Is Brock Lesnar leaving WWE again?
- McCandless site set for Wal-Mart supercenter store
- Shale drilling boom a bust for some Western Pennsylvania towns
- Link to Sept. 11 motivated new chief of nonprofit Friends of Flight 93
- Volunteer potters lend time for Empty Bowls Dinner fundraiser
- Power play shines in Penguins’ home victory over Blue Jackets
- Penguins notebook: Pouliot dazzles in victory over Blue Jackets
- Nurse who survived Ebola virus says Dallas hospital failed her
- Natural gas royalties lawsuit hinges on transaction date
- Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care