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Pennsylvania police improve crime victim notification system

When a person becomes a sex/violent crime victim, the emotional and psychological trauma they face doesn't end when the crime is completed. It often doesn't even end when the perpetrator is arrested, convicted and sent to prison. Depending on the nature and severity of the crime, victims can struggle for years with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and other mental health issues.

While many victims would like to never again hear the name of their abuser, others want the security of always knowing where the perpetrator is. For those in the latter group, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed the state's Adam Walsh law in 2011. It requires the State Police to notify the victims of sexually violent offenders if/when those offenders change jobs or addresses, or when those offenders register with the Megan's Law unit.

Unfortunately, the notification system was falling far short of its duties. State Police are often ill-equipped to handle victim advocacy services. According to recent news reports, however, State Police have partnered with the state's Office of Victim Advocate. Thanks to this partnership and some much-needed funding, nearly 800 victims have been identified and notified just in the past two months.

It should be noted that victims who would be eligible to receive notifications about their attacker must opt in to receive updates. But now, those who do opt in or have already done so are far more likely to receive notifications as requested.

If you have been the victim of a sex crime or other violent offense, criminal justice is appropriate and necessary, but it may not be enough. That's why many victims choose to pursue a civil lawsuit against their abuser as well. In order to better understand your rights and legal options, please share your story with an experienced and compassionate crime victim compensation attorney.

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