Harrisburg, June 19, 2019 − Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) is elated that his legislation Senate Bill 123, also known as Karen’s Law, was passed unanimously (50-0) by the Senate and is one major step closer to becoming a law in Pennsylvania.
“It’s been well over a year since I first met Karen and heard her story,” Sabatina said. “It’s been quite a journey and we still have more to do. But this is a big step towards combatting the re-victimization of survivors of sexually violent crimes.”
Karen’s Law would affect parole eligibility for sexually violent offenders, increasing the time between parole hearings from one year to three years. The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole would not be required to review parole applications of those convicted of sexually violent crimes until three years after their most recent parole application.
“We often think justice is served upon conviction and sentencing,” Sabatina said. “Unfortunately, as I know from my time as an assistant district attorney, many of us are missing the rest of the story.”
Karen’s law is named after Karen Widdoss-Milewski, a constituent of Senator Sabatina’s. It is supported by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Radar Project, the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, Woman Organized Against Rape (WOAR), Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate, Pennsylvania FOP and Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, and countless survivors of violent crime.
“Karen’s Law supports victims of sexually violent crime,” Sabatina said. “This legislative progress sends a message to Pennsylvanians that we’re tough on these heinous crimes but also caring of the experience of the victims of those crimes.”
Karen’s Law must now pass through the House of Representatives. The House companion bill, introduced by State Representative Martina White (R-Philadelphia) recently passed the House Judiciary Committee, providing a clear path for SB 123’s consideration.