Pennsylvania Senate Initiates Study of State's Death Penalty

The Pennsylvania Senate recently passed a resolution that will result in a study of the state’s death penalty and look at issues of fairness, equality and costs of a punishment that is rarely carried out in the state. The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, a Republican, who said, “Questions are frequently raised regarding the costs, deterrent effect and appropriateness of capital punishment. I believe that we need to answer these questions.” Since Pennsylvania reinstated the death penalty in 1978, only three people have been executed, all of whom waived their rights to appeal their sentences. The last execution in the state was held 13 years ago. Over 200 remain on death row. David Rose, a retired corrections officer, said he has observed inequalities within the system that prevent defendants from receiving fair trials. Rose said, “When you work in corrections, you realize the guiltiest people aren’t the ones on death row.” The study committee, which will be composed of four senators and a team of advisers, has not been formed yet. It can take two years to complete its work.

(T. Shortell, “With Executions Backlogged, Pennsylvania Senate Calls for Review of Death Penalty,” Lehigh Valley Express-Times, January 2, 2012). See Studies.