Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania, which is aimed at providing equal rights to crime victims in Pennsylvania by ensuring constitutional protections, recently announced that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala has been presented the Guardian of Victims’ Rights Award.
The Guardian of Victims’ Rights Awards are presented to people who have served as advocates and ambassadors for crime victims across the state, working to ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect. In addition to consistently advocating for victims throughout his career, DA Zappala has been a supporter of Marsy’s Law legislation, which is seeking an amendment to ensure that the Pennsylvania Constitution enumerates rights for victims of crime.
"I am proud to fight alongside so many others to insure victims across the Commonwealth are provided with measures through the law to guarantee safety for victims, prompt conclusions of cases, and restitution for victims and their families," DA Zappala said. "Victims deserve to be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. I encourage all to please vote for Marsy's Law for Pennsylvania."
The award was presented to DA Zappala on Wednesday, September 25 during a meeting with Marsy's Law for Pennsylvania and the Center for Victims.
Although the state constitution enumerates rights for individuals accused and convicted of crimes, Pennsylvania does not currently afford the same protections to crime victims. For the state constitution to be amended, legislation must pass in two consecutive legislative sessions before being added to the ballot for voter approval.
Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) introduced House Bill 276 for Marsy’s Law earlier this year, and Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) sponsored the bill in the Senate. The measure was approved by both the House of Representatives and the State Senate during this legislative session, qualifying it to appear as a ballot referendum in the fall.
During the 2017-18 legislative session, Marsy’s Law passed unanimously in the state Senate and House.