OP-ED: Standing with survivors in our community

Chris Reilly
York County Commissioner
Republican County Commissioner incumbent Chris Reilly votes at Aldersgate U.M. church in York Township during election night in York, Pa. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. Dawn J. Sagert -

In my nearly 20 years as a York County commissioner, I have come to deeply respect and care about this community. So, when a member of our community is egregiously harmed by a criminal act, I feel compelled to stand up for them.

That is why I will be voting yes on the Crime Victim Rights Amendment referendum during the election this November.

This amendment, as proposed by Marsy’s Law, would allow our families, neighbors and friends in York County — and across the commonwealth — whose lives have been forever altered by crime to have a guaranteed voice in the process.

Although Pennsylvania has some of the most robust victims’ rights laws in the country, there is nothing we can do for the victims when those rights have been violated. Any person who has a legal right should have a legal remedy when that right is violated. It is my hope that our community will help change this narrative for survivors by voting in favor of Marsy’s Law this fall.

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As it should be, the accused have enumerated rights in our state constitution, giving them a mechanism to ensure that their rights will not be violated. The survivors of these crimes certainly deserve the same level of protection.

Marsy’s Law will not conflict with the rights of the accused and convicted. Rather, it will put the rights of the victim at an equal level. It gives the victim — who is enduring physical, mental and emotional injuries — a protected voice in the system. Victims’ rights are fundamental: the right to be heard, be present and be informed.

Crime victims in Pennsylvania deserve Marsy’s Law, and the measure is needed to ensure that their rights are protected with the same vigor as their perpetrators’. I encourage my neighbors in York County to stand with me this fall to prove unequivocally that survivors in the community have our support.