Crime victims in Lancaster County will be getting more compensation in coming years, if a bill that recently cleared the Senate Budget Committee becomes law.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey was in Lancaster County on Monday to discuss the Fairness for Crime Victims Act of 2015, which the Committee approved in June.
If the bill becomes law, hundreds of millions of dollars more would go to victims of crime, according to Toomey.
That includes victims of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes perpetrated in Lancaster County.
“We have an obligation to do what we can for the victims of crimes,” Sen. Toomey said at a conference Monday afternoon in the Lancaster County Government building.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman was in attendance, along with County Commissioner Scott Martin, who introduced Sen. Toomey.
Stedman thanked the Senator for advocating on behalf of oft-neglected crime victims.
“We can prosecute these (criminals). We can get the arrests and conviction numbers we have,” Stedman said. “But, really, why we do what we did is for the victims - to make them whole.
“And that’s where we are the weakest. We need money for that.”
Toomey explained, each year, criminal defendants pay billions of dollars to the federal Crime Victims Fund. However, Toomey explained, much of that money doesn’t reach the victims. Instead, he said, Congress uses the money elsewhere.
“It is a fraud on multiple levels,” Toomey told the crowd in Lancaster.
Nationally, an estimated 30 percent of the $12 billion collected for the Crime Victims Fund, between 2010 and 2014, actually reached victims, Toomey said.
Pennsylvania, under the Fairness for Crime Victims Act, would receive $80 million for victims in 2016 – more than four times what the state received in 2014.
Locally, Lancaster County would benefit from such a spike, receiving its due share.
“The funds have been very tight and the certainty has not been there,” Commissioner Martin said. “So this absolutely makes a huge difference.”
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