PA Board to hear pleas from prison lifers

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The Board of Pardons will hear pleas for commutations from 21 Pennsylvania lifers, Friday.

The Lieutenant Governor believes in restoring second chances, while victim advocates say the families of crime victims are set to oppose. 

Governor Wolf granted relief six-time within the last eight months and a total of 11 since he started his term. In just a few days, there is a possibility that the number could increase. 

Lieutenant Governor, John Fetterman says the process of commutation is an underutilized, ignored and a neglected process. He says the state should believe in a second chance.

“How much is enough? Is 25 years enough? Is 30 years enough? And we’ve gotten people out that have been in for 50 years and have not directly taken a life and I would submit that that is way too much and I think we in Pennsylvania can and should do better and we are doing better,” Fetterman says. 

Jennifer Storm, the state’s victim advocate, says within these 21 cases, there is strong opposition from family members, with a few exceptions.

Storm says if there is going to be a review and a second look, the Board of Pardons is correct as opposed to creating parole eligibility for lifers. 

“Certainly we don’t oppose the process, we just always want to make sure that victim’s voices are heard, that they have that ability to come forward and we have the opportunity to make sure they are heard,” said Storm. 

Fetterman believes that there needs to be a distinction on when someone has served their time. “I think there is a line that we, as a society, need to determine is what is justice and what is vengeance,” he said.

Board members will speak to the inmates Wednesday and Thursday before the public hearing on Friday. 

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