Legislation is being introduced in the state’s House and Senate that would abolish the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
Lawmakers behind the bills cite human error causing wrongfully convicted people be sentenced to death row, as well as high cost.
Pennsylvania has the fifth highest death row population in the country, but many will never actually be put to death, due to the long appeals process.
“We’ve only executed three people since 1978,” said Senator Sharif Street. “Yet, we’ve spent countless dollars on countless numbers of appeals and judicial processes.”
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association has spoken out against eliminating the death penalty as an option in the past.
“We use the death penalty very judiciously in Pennsylvania. It’s rare, as it should be, but it’s an available option for the most terrible of murderers,” said Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo. “These are reserved for the most terrible of crimes, and it should be an option. And jurors are very capable of deciding when it’s an appropriate penalty.”
There is currently a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania. The last time an inmate was executed in the state was in 1999.