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Pennsylvania Cost Commission to Consider Expensive Death Penalty System

On Monday, June 7, the Pennsylvania State Government Management and Cost Study Commission will hear from experts on proposals to cut the costs of various government programs. The Commission, established in 2009, is comprised of private and public sector cost-minded leaders in Pennsylvania and has been charged with studying the management of government operations and making recommendations for cost-cutting measures. Among the experts who will testify at the hearing is Richard Dieter, Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, who will provide information on the high costs of the death penalty. His testimony states: "[T]he death penalty is not an essential government function and, in fact, is probably one of the least effective and most costly programs, when measured in terms of the people it affects. What Pennsylvania calls the death penalty is in reality a very expensive form of life without parole. Despite having the fourth largest death row in the country, Pennsylvania has not had an execution in 11 years" and no "contested execution since 1962."  Read full text of Richard Dieter's testimony below.


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NEW VOICES: Medical Society of New Jersey Urges AMA to Oppose Death Penalty

The Medical Society of New Jersey recently approved a resolution calling upon the American Medical Association (AMA) to advocate for the "abolition of capital punishment by each jurisdiction in the United States of America ... and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole." Among the stated rationales for the resolution, the society noted that "Numerous reports document pernicious and recurring errors and other fallibilities associated with the judicial process of capital punishment as currently imposed that include flawed testimony provided by medical scientists." The Society also pointed to the fact that New Jersey had recently abolished the death penalty.  Currently, the American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics states: "A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution."  The New Jersey delegation is scheduled to speak for the resolution at the AMA's annual meeting in June 2010.


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