The Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) was created by Act 8, 1995 during Governor Tom Ridge's Special Session on Crime and the office is dedicated to representing, protecting and advancing the individual and collective rights and interests of crime victims. The Victim Advocate is nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate to serve a term of six years. The Victim Advocate has the authority and the duty to represent the rights and interest of crime victims before the PA Department of Corrections (DOC) and the PA Board of Probation and Parole (PBPP).
One of OVA’s goals is to provide crime victims with a victim-centered continuum of service throughout the post sentencing process. Our efforts are primarily directed toward ensuring that crime victims registered with OVA are afforded their post sentencing rights to notification and input when offenders under the jurisdiction of the DOC or PBPP are being considered for release back to the community. Another of OVA’s goals is to advocate for the effective use of victim comments into the decision making process for release and for the inclusion of victim issues into the release plans of inmates.
Crime victims often have questions about the types of releases for which an offender may be eligible. Or they may want to know what types of information is used by DOC and PBPP to make decisions about releasing offenders. OVA can help provide this type of information. We can also provide referrals to local and statewide agencies and organizations that may be able to provide support and assistance. OVA staff are available to provide information and assistance when victims and their family and friends prepare statements to be considered whenever DOC and PBPP are considering an inmate for different types of releases.
OVA is also committed to improving and expanding the response of the criminal justice system to the needs and concerns of crime victims so that the inclusion of crime victims moves from being an obligation to being viewed as an opportunity for justice and healing.
OVA offers special programs such as:
*Address Confidentiality Program: Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and persons who live in the same household as the victim may apply to participate in ACP. ACP will determine if an applicant meets the requirements for participation. Applicants should have moved or be moving to a new address that is unknown to the perpetrator.
*Victim Offender Dialogue is a way of bringing a victim and offender together for a face-to-face meeting, in the presence of a trained unbiased mediator, between the victim of a crime and the person who committed that crime. The practice is also known as victim offender mediation, victim-offender reconciliation, or restorative justice dialogue.