HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds of people across Pennsylvania rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday to demand an end of ‘death by incarceration.’
Many of the rally speakers were families with loved ones sentenced to life in prison and those who lost family to violence.
In Pennsylvania, there’s no possibility for parole if a person is sentenced to life in prison, an aspect the ralliers want to see changed.
“Imagine making a bad decision, a wrong choice, a moment of just losing it, and then paying for it for the rest of your life,” said Pastor Larry Anderson, of Great Commission Church.
They shared their stories.
“My son and only child that’s incarcerated, he was 18 years old and 3 months, and in three months, my baby’s going to be 44 years old. I also have a brother. Come this Friday, it’ll be 27 years that he was murdered by violence,” said Lorraine Haw, a member of the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration.
“I am the sister of two individuals, one that is serving a mandatory life without chance of parole sentence, and I also lost my brother, my younger brother, when he was 23 years old to gun violence,” said Kim King, a member of the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration.
Their message preached the opportunity of another chance.
“I wanted everything to fall from the sky on the gentleman who took his life. It was a very painful, very difficult time for my family and I, but how could I ask for forgiveness if I wasn’t willing to give it,” said King.
They are advocating for the passage of Senate Bill 942 and House Bill 135, which allow those sentenced to life in prison the possibility of parole.
In August, police said that within 10 days this year, parolees killed five people in the state, prompting an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
“We’re not here to try to just free everybody, but there are individual cases,” said Regina Mason, whose son was sentenced to life in prison.
The Office of the Victim Advocate sent surveys this year to more than 800 registered victims of people eligible for parole on second-degree murder convictions, according to the Pennsylvania Capital Star. Less than half responded, and the majority said they didn’t support the reform.