By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Governor Corbett has signed a bill – spurred by a case in Montgomery County – that will ensure that crime victims or their representatives have a chance to appear in person before the state parole board when it is considering the release of an offender.

The legislation rocketed through the House and Senate after Montgomery County House Republican Mike Vereb championed the case of Ellen Gregory Robb, killed by her husband Rafael, who was set to be released in January after serving just six of a five to 10 year sentence (see related story).

Ellen Robb’s family and others successfully lobbied the parole board to rescind its decision, but were distressed to learn that they could not make their case to the board in person. Now a bill sponsored by Vereb will change that.

Vereb notes that victims and their families take part in the judicial process at every step.

“Why did our system close the door once thugs like Robb go to prison?”

asks Gary Gregory, the victim’s brother, who was present for the bill signing.

“For once in the state of Pennsylvania, and now memorialized in this law and going forward, victims will have the same footing as criminals.”

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