State Legislature Starts Work on Repealing Death Penalty Law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – WHTM is reporting… One day after Governor Josh Shapiro called for a repeal of Pennsylvania’s death penalty, lawmakers in both the State House and Senate introduced legislation to repeal the program.  The bills were introduced as companion legislation by State Rep. Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia) and State Senators Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and Katie Muth (D-Berks/ Chester/Montgomery).  Pennsylvania currently has 101 inmates on death row, however the commonwealth has not executed anyone since 1999.  According to Street and Muth, “of the 408 Pennsylvania prisoners sentenced to death between 1978 and 2015, 169 were resentenced to life, 16 were resentenced to a term of years, and 11 were exonerated.”

“The Commonwealth shouldn’t be in the business of putting people to death. Period,” said Shapiro on Thursday.  In Pennsylvania, the death penalty can only be applied in cases where a defendant is found guilty of first-degree murder if aggravating factors are present in the conviction.  The Governor acknowledged that those on death row “have committed serious crimes. They deserve to be put behind bars for a good long time, if not for life.”  He said he is not speaking towards the integrity of the convictions, but “rather whether death is a just and appropriate punishment for the state to inflict on its citizens.”  Pennsylvania House Republican Spokesman Jason Gottesman responded to Shapiro’s announcement, saying “removing this measure of accountability and deterrence from prosecutorial discretion is at best tone deaf to the concerns of Pennsylvanians and at worst disrespectful to the victims of the most serious crimes in our society.”

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