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The 2nd Ward Democrats recommend that our constituents vote NO on Ballot Question 1, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to include a section on Crime Victim Rights.

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and the League of Women Voters are also recommending a NO vote on this question and have already filed a lawsuit against it because several provisions of the proposed amendment directly conflict with important due process protections afforded by the federal Constitution, the terms of which take precedence over our state Constitution. Criminal justice reform groups are also recommending a NO vote because this amendment would increase incarceration rates in Pennsylvania, which are already far too high.

While we share a concern for the very real pain of victims and their families, there are better ways to get needed aid for victims that don’t place unconstitutional burdens on prosecutors (as this referendum would), such as providing victims with counseling services. These measures are sorely needed but they are missing from this proposal. There’s no reason to pit constitutional protections for those accused of crime — which could some day be any of us — against the human needs of those who have been victims of it — which also could someday be any of us.

The Commonwealth Court recently issued an order stopping the state from implementing the amendment regardless of the vote. Nevertheless, we think it is important for voters to reject this proposed amendment as this decision could be appealed and it is unclear what the final outcome will be.