HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Should Pennsylvania officially get rid of the death penalty? There’s currently a moratorium and it’s only been administered three times in the past 60 years, the last back in 1999.
On Tuesday, a historic first step for a ban on capital punishment. A bill banning it moved out of committee, but it still has a long way to go.
“I know how it feels to be accused of something you didn’t do,” exoneree and witness to innocence Herman Lindsey said.
Lindsey was on Florida’s death row
“And think you’re going to lose your life as you sit in a cell,” he said.
Wrongly accused, Lindsey was exonerated.
“This man could have been killed,” State Rep. Chris Rabb (D) said.
So could 11 Pennsylvanians, who were wrongly sentenced to death and set free. And why State Rep Chris Rabb is working hard at the capitol to abolish capital punishment.
House Bill 999 passed out of committee. Supporters argue the death penalty is expensive, doesn’t work, and is unfairly admitted.
“If you can afford a great lawyer, if you could afford a great legal team, regardless of what the facts are,” appropriations chairman and State Rep. Jordan Harris said. “You receive a different style of justice.”
And, they argue, the justice system is proven to be fallible.
“Government is so frequently inept,” Conservatives Concerned About The Death Penalty member Demetrius Minor said. “It truly does boggle my mind why anyone thinks that the death penalty can be administered properly. It’s impossible to restore a life wrongfully taken.”
“I think this goes to the graveyard of the Senate as most Democrat bills from the House are going right now,” State Rep. Rob Kauffman (R) said
Republican Judiciary Chairman Rob Kauffman voted no. He calls the bill rushed through with no hearings or thoughtful debate and believes a majority of Pennsylvanians want death on the books.
“There are crimes which are so heinous, so against societal and human norms that they still want to have that as an option for those most heinous crimes,” Kauffman said.
Crimes like the Tree Of Life mass shooting in Pittsburgh. That gunman, prosecuted federally, got the death penalty. Did that jury get it wrong?
“I absolutely believe they got it wrong because I don’t believe our government has the moral authority to kill anyone,” Rabb said.
It’s a historic first step. But the bill still has to pass the full house, which it might. Then it’s on to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its future is very, very uncertain.