Executions have become a rarity in Pennsylvania with Governor Tom Wolf instituting a moratorium on the death penalty. Now, some lawmakers want to take it a step further and abolish the death penalty in the state.
A Pennsylvania inmate has not been executed this century with the last one happening in 1999, but there are still plenty of inmates sitting on death row and some lawmakers think it’s doing more harm than good.
Democratic lawmakers from both the House and Senate this week announced legislation to eliminate the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
Senator Katie Muth says, “I think, from a victim’s standpoint, it would give you great peace to know that the actual person that harmed you and your family, was truly being held accountable, versus someone who did not do those things, right?”
Supporters cite not only human error, but also cost. Right now, PA has the fifth highest death row population in the country. Many will end up dying from old age rather than lethal injection.
Senator Sharif Street says, “We’ve only executed three people since 1978… yet we’ve spent countless dollars on countless numbers of appeals and judicial processes.”
Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo says, “These are people that are the most dangerous offenders. And putting them in general population, where they can hurt other people, would be an awful thing.”
The Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association has spoken out against removing the death penalty as an option.
Chardo says, “Jurors, not politicians, should be deciding when it’s appropriate.” He also says the death penalty is a rarity in Pennsylvania, but firmly believes that, for some criminals, it remains the most appropriate punishment. “These are reserved for the most terrible of crimes, and it should be an option.”