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Bill will move forward as House Companion Bill (HB-1538 White)

Harrisburg, October 21, 2020 − Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) announced Karen’s Law passed in the Senate by a vote of 46-3. The House companion bill (HB-1538 – White) will be the official bill to be signed so as not to delay to process. Sabatina pushed the companion bill through the Senate instead of waiting for his own Senate Bill (SB-123).

“This is important legislation that survivors of sexually violent crimes so desperately need,” Sabatina said. “The most important thing was to get Karen’s Law signed sooner rather than later.”  

Karen’s Law would affect parole application eligibility for inmates deemed Sexually Violent Predators or sentenced under one of the violent or sexual offenses listed in the legislation, increasing the time between parole hearings from one year to three years. 

“The fact that these survivors must be retraumatized year after year just to make sure their attacker serves a full sentence is appalling,” Sabatina stated. “This law will provide a measure of relief for them. We owe them a great deal as they were brave enough to face their accusers in court in the first place. Our communities are safer as a result of their sacrifice.”  

Sabatina also pointed out the importance of elevating the punishments for sexually violent predators.  

“It sends a message to Pennsylvanians that we’re tough on these heinous crimes but also caring of the experience of the survivors,” Sabatina said. “Oftentimes these strong survivors are grappling with PTSD. We need to be tougher on these criminals as more sensitive to who they’ve hurt. It’s not just a one-time crime. It is a lifetime of pain in many cases.”   

Sabatina first met Karen Widdoss-Milewski in 2017 when she came into his office to discuss her situation. He introduced the legislation then. In 2019 State Rep. Martina White joined Sabatina in pushing for Karen’s Law, which accelerated the process. 

Sabatina thanked Rep. Martina White (R- Philadelphia) for sponsoring the House companion bill.  

“It goes to show the bi-partisan nature of this law,” Sabatina said. “It’s been a pleasure to have Representative White join us in this effort.”  

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.  

The House of Representatives is expected to concur with the Senate and send the bill to Governor Wolf’s desk. It is expected that he will sign this bill into law. 

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