HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation today known as Marsy’s Law, which amends the state constitution to add language related to the rights of victims of crime. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has criticized the legislation out of concern that it will diminish the ability of people who are accused of crimes to defend themselves and that it will give the government more power in prosecuting cases.

The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Marsy’s Law is a well-intended but extremely flawed approach to victims’ rights. We all sympathize with people who are victims of crime. But, for good reason, our laws treat the rights of victims and the rights of the accused differently.

“When a person is accused of a crime, they are facing the awesome power of the government, which is trying to deprive them of their liberty. That is why the rights of people who are presumed to be innocent are embedded into the Constitution.

“This bill will undermine the due process rights of people who are accused of crimes by limiting their ability to build a defense.”

The following can be attributed to Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Amending the constitution should never be taken lightly. But in two legislative sessions, neither judiciary committee in the House nor the Senate has held a single hearing to vet the complicated issues involved in this legislation.

“Because this is a constitutional amendment and not a statutory change, any flaws in the functionality of these new rights will only be fixed by another constitutional amendment. This is no way to make new law.”