Capital Punishment

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a temporary stay of execution on Thursday for convicted killer Hubert Lester Michael, who was set to die the next day.

It’s the governor’s second intervention since he took office. He promised in February to grant a reprieve to any inmate whose execution date comes before the results of the newly established Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment are published.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Last Friday, Governor Tom Wolf announced a hold on all executions in Pennsylvania, due to ongoing questions about the effectiveness of capital punishment.

While the death penalty is on hold, State Senator Daylin Leach is taking steps to repeal the practice in PA altogether.

Thirty-two states, including Pennsylvania, have the death penalty. Since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment,  Rhode Island (1984),  New York (2007), New Jersey (2007),  New Mexico (2009) Connecticut (2012), and Maryland (2013)  have abolished it. But the repeal in the last three states was not retroactive so they still have prisoners on death row.  Massachusetts' death penalty statute was nullified in 1984 by court rulings.

Could Pennsylvania become the next state to abolish capital punishment?

A Dialogue On The Death Penalty With Sister Helen Prejean

May 16, 2013
Irish Jesuits / Flickr

  Sister Helen Prejean, has been an advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty, and a spiritual advisor for death row inmates and their families for decades.

Her bestselling book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States inspired an Oscar nominated film of the same name. This week, Sister Helen comes to Pittsburgh's Rodef Shalom Congregation to speak about capital punishment and the nation's criminal justice system.