Moratorium on Death Penalty in Pennsylvania
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Moratorium on the Death Penalty in Pennsylvania

The debate over the death penalty in Pennsylvania continues to grow after the House’s divided vote on a resolution coming out against Governor Tom Wolf’s moratorium on the death penalty in the state. While the House ultimately voted to issue the resolution chastising the governor for his decision to unilaterally give reprieves to criminals on death row, the vote count was close, and support (but also opposition) existed in both parties for the governor’s choice to effectively end the practice of the death penalty in Pennsylvania.

Over the next year, as we await the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision on whether or not the governor has the power to grant such reprieves under his ability to give pardons, people on both side of the debate are likely to continue to passionately defend and oppose the total abolition of the death penalty in our state. Without outside intervention, the governor intends to continue handing out reprieves until at least the results of a 2011 bipartisan commission reviewing the effectiveness of capital punishment are finalized and can be analyzed. In the meantime, support is growing to make the practice illegal here, as well as across the nation.

Death to the Ineffective Death Penalty?

According to Governor Wolf, the reprieves are not issued as an expression of empathy for the prisoners, but rather in response to the reality that the system is flawed. Policies eliminating the death penalty in practice help bring attention to the growing opposition to the death penalty for reasons ranging from moral conviction to simple financial cost.

His assertion that the death penalty is “ineffective, unjust and expensive” has been echoed in many places over the past few years. Many states, including the very conservative legislature in Nebraska, have begun to question the practice and deem it illegal. In fact, there are strong movements against the death penalty in almost every state that still has the practice, leading Time to question whether or not the death penalty would be eliminated across the board very soon.

Still, such movements are not unopposed. Many vocal supporters of the death penalty, including Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, believe that it is an important tool for justice. Since it will probably be at least a year before the issue is decided by the state Supreme Court and the policy could simply be undone by the next governor, the death penalty is still alive in Pennsylvania for the foreseeable future, albeit less practiced. Defendants here still face a death penalty sentence for some of the most heinous crimes.

For people accused of serious crimes, a strong defense is still needed to avoid the death penalty. If you are arrested for any crime in Pennsylvania, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to defend your rights and develop a strong defense. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC for a free consultation on your case 24/7 at (412) 281-2146 to find out how we may be able to help. Every person has a right to a strong defense, no matter what the accusation or financial situation.

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