HARRISBURG – Today, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania that will remain in effect until the governor has received and reviewed the forthcoming report of the Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission on Capital Punishment, established under Senate Resolution 6 of 2011, and there is an opportunity to address all concerns satisfactorily.
“Today’s action comes after significant consideration and reflection,” said Wolf. “This moratorium is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes.
“This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive.
“Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 150 people have been exonerated from death row nationwide, including six men in Pennsylvania. Recognizing the seriousness of these concerns, the Senate established the bipartisan Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Commission to conduct a study of the effectiveness of capital punishment in Pennsylvania.
“Today’s moratorium will remain in effect until this commission has produced its recommendation and all concerns are addressed satisfactorily.”
This morning, Wolf took the first step in placing a moratorium on the death penalty by granting a temporary reprieve to inmate Terrance Williams, who was scheduled to be executed on March 4.
Wolf will grant a reprieve – not a commutation – in each future instance in which an execution for a death row inmate is scheduled, establishing an effective moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania. For death row inmates, the conditions and confinement will not change.