Victims’ rights advocates worry about efforts to expedite inmates due to COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A victims’ rights advocacy group is speaking out after the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to free some inmates from jails and prisons because of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania helped get the Crime Victims’ Rights Amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, on the ballot as a question last November. Seventy-four percent of voters approved it, but it’s been on hold pending a lawsuit by the ACLU of Pennsylvania. 

But when the ACLU wrote to Gov. Tom Wolf asking for the early release of prisoners, and then filed an emergency petition to the state’s highest court, Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania State Director Jennifer Riley said her group had to speak out.
“It’s not that Marsy’s Law is opposed to inmate release — especially non-violent offenders — but we want them to take into account crime victims’ rights as well,” she said. “We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. We should be upholding everybody’s rights.”

RIley said the Marsy’s Law group is considering filing a petition with the court to ensure all victims will be notified in any procedure for early release.