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January 14, 2011

Out-going PA Gov Rendell urges lawmakers to take look at state's death penalty

On the same day he signed six more death warrants, out-going Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell wrote to his state's legislators to urge them to "re-examine the efficacy of the death penalty.  This AP article provides some of the context for, and contents of, Rendell's capital comments:

Four days before his eight-year tenure ends, Rendell signed six more death warrants, bringing his total to 119.  None of those convicted murderers are close to potential execution, which the Democratic governor attributed to "a system of endless appeals."

Pennsylvania has put to death three people since the last contested execution in 1962, and all three had willingly given up on the appeals process.  There are currently 213 men and four women on the state's death row....

Rendell, a former prosecutor, remains a supporter of capital punishment as a deterrent. But he said the existing system frustrates police, costs taxpayers and robs the victims' families and friends of peace of mind.

"A 15-, 20- or 25-year lapse between imposition of a death sentence and the actual execution is no deterrent," Rendell wrote in a letter to members of the General Assembly on Friday.  "In the public's eye, the crime and the victim may be long forgotten."

He said lawmakers should look for ways to significantly shorten the amount of time for appeals while ensuring the facts and the law are thoroughly reviewed.  If that proves impossible, he said, the Legislature should consider instituting a new form of punishment: life without any chance of parole, pardon or commutation, a change that may require amending Pennsylvania's constitution....

Andy Hoover with the Pennsylvania ACLU, who attended Rendell's death penalty news conference, called the current system "torturous and long" but said the governor's proposals would not be an improvement.  "If we streamline the process, we increase the risk of innocent people being executed, and the governor didn't address that at all," Hoover said.

A spokesman for the state district attorneys' association said the group was developing proposals to cut the length of appeals, but declined to provide specifics.

The full text of the Gov. Rendell's two-page letter is available at this link.

January 14, 2011 at 03:43 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I'll say one thing for Gov. Rendell, he's definitely "outgoing." Did you see him on 60 Minutes discussing legalized casino gambling?

Posted by: Peter G | Jan 14, 2011 6:24:23 PM

A well known crocodile crying to save his legacy.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 16, 2011 2:25:04 AM

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