Task Force Wants to Stop Death Penalty...Temporarily

Sep 19, 2012

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A state Senate task force has sent a request to Governor Tom Corbett requesting a temporary halt to capital punishment until the group’s studies are comprehensive and complete.

The task force and its advisory committee are  researching issues surrounding the death penalty including cost, bias, unfairness, impact on family, alternatives, public opinion, and more. One of the four state senators on the task force, Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) said the legislators want to make sure the death penalty is being applied fairly, proportionately, and that taxpayers are getting they’re money’s worth.

“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on this, and that’s one of the questions we have to explore,” Leach said.  “The death penalty is a government program like any other, are the taxpayers getting anything of value for the hundreds of millions of dollars they’re spending.”

Leach said the report should be complete by mid-2013.  The deadline for the report to be submitted to the state is December 2013.  Leach said more intelligent decisions can be made once the analysis is completed.

“We haven’t actually executed anybody in 50 years who hasn’t asked to be executed,” Leach said.  “There’s no downside to waiting a few more months, give us a chance to complete our work,”

He added the moratorium request isn’t directly related to one case, but said some cases have been making their way “through the pipelines.”

“Execution dates have been set before and not been carried out, but since execution dates are being set we just want to make sure in a bi-partisan way, we’re asking the Governor whatever dates come up, not to carry out the death penalty until we have a chance to explore it which is what the legislature has asked us to do,” Leach said.

There have been three executions, all by lethal injection, in Pennsylvania since the death penalty was reenacted in 1974.  All three of those inmates voluntarily ended their appeals.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, there are now 200 inmates on death row.