Harrisburg newspaper: Exonerations should spark death penalty moratorium


Citing six people exonerated from death row in Pennsylvania in the last 21 years, the Harrisburg Patriot-News this week called for a halt in the state’s death penalty while criminal justice reforms take place. Gov. Ed Rendell signed three death warrants last week, the paper reports, but has admitted that the criminal justice system in flawed. Pennsylvania has 225 prisoners awaiting execution, among the highest death row populations in the country.

Poor defendants almost never have the means to hire competent private defense counsel, or the resources to engage investigators, obtain expert witnesses or pay for tests. Even the cost of transcripts can be beyond reach.

Three individuals have been executed in Pennsylvania, all of them after they voluntarily gave up their appeals, since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. Another 225 prisoners are awaiting execution in this state, one of the highest Death-Row populations in the country.

Gov. Ed Rendell, who signed three more death warrants last week, has conceded that there are flaws in the system. But he has resisted calls for a two-year moratorium on executions sought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches and other groups.

Read the full editorial here

. (Harrisbury Patriot-News, 4/30/07)

Last month, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck joined exoneree Ray Krone and local groups at a rally in Philadelphia calling for a statewide moratorium on executions.

Read more here


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