Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bill inspired by Robb near-release progresses

Bill inspired by Robb near-release progresses









The House Judiciary Committee today passed a bill that would give crime victims and their families the right to speak directly to Pennsylvania parole board members before a decision is made to release an inmate.

The legislation came out of a controversial decision by the state parole board to release Rafael Robb, the former University of Pennsylvania professor who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2006 death of his wife, Ellen Robb, as she was wrapping Christmas gifts in their Upper Merion home.Rafael Robb was eligible for parole after serving a minimum amount of his 5- to 10-year prison sentence.

Ellen Robb's family and Montgomery County District Attorney   Risa Vetri Ferman knew that Rafael was eligible for parole consideration last November. But they were surprised to learn in early January that he was scheduled to walk out of jail on Jan. 28. Because the victim's brothers said they believed Rafael to be a danger to the Robbs' daughter and was manipulating the board into thinking he was remorseful, they and Ferman began pushing the parole board members to rescind their decision.

As part of that effort, the victim's brothers tried to make their case for a reversal to board Chairman Michael C. Potteiger. They did meet with him — but only to hear that the board had a policy of not letting victims or their representatives make an in-person statement before the board when a parole decision was about to be made, saying a state provision allowed them to bar such appearances.

Because a section of state law did seem to allow the board to hear directly from victims and witnesses, State Rep. Mike Vereb (R., Montgomery), with the parole board's support, introduced this legislation to clear up any confusion and mandate that right, if that was the wish of the victim or family.

Verebl introduced the legislation in early March. The House passed it on March 19. Vereb hopes the full Senate will pass it next week, and that Gov. Corbett will sign it soon after. If it is enacted, it would take effect in September.

Photo from Inquirer archives: Announcing the parole bill are (from left) State Rep. Mike Vereb; Gary Gregory, brother of victim Ellen Robb; and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Montco Memo, a blog written by Inquirer staffers Carolyn Davis and Jessica Parks, covers police and courts, issues and community news in Montgomery County.

Carolyn Davis
Jessica Parks
Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter