HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Governor Tom Wolf says he is temporarily prohibiting the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
Wolf said the moratorium will remain in effect until he has reviewed a task force report on the effectiveness of capital punishment in Pennsylvania and all concerns have been addressed satisfactorily.
“Today’s action comes after significant consideration and reflection,” Wolf said in a statement. “This moratorium is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes. This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive.”
Wolf said since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 150 people have been exonerated from death row nationwide, including six men in Pennsylvania.
The Democratic governor took the first step in placing a moratorium on the death penalty by granting a temporary reprieve to inmate Terrance Williams, who was scheduled to be executed March 4 for beating a man to death during a Philadelphia robbery in 1984.
Wolf’s Republican predecessor, Governor Tom Corbett, signed execution warrants for Williams and four other convicted murderers during his final days in office.
Wolf said he will grant a reprieve, not a commutation, in each future instance in which an execution for a death row inmate is scheduled, establishing an effective moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
The conditions and confinement of death row inmates will not change, he said.