PHILADELPHIA, PA. February 17, 2023 – Today Senators Katie Muth and Sharif Street resubmitted a co-sponsorship memo to repeal the death penalty in PA, heeding Governor Shapiro’s call for its repeal by the General Assembly following his announcement to extend the moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
“I applaud Governor Shapiro’s decision to block the death penalty in our state,” said Senator Street, “It has not been a deterrent to violent crime and its overwhelming cost, disparate application, risk of human error and historically arbitrary and racist implementation make it unfit for any use in an efficient and truly just system.”
Since 2010, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 18% or higher than in states without it. Pennsylvania has one of the country’s highest death row populations, currently at 101 inmates, though only three executions have occurred in recent decades, costing taxpayers $816 million.
Senator Muth affirmed the death penalty as a waste of taxpayer funds with no public safety benefit, also stating that “Data from law enforcement shows that states with the death penalty have the highest murder rates, showing how this form of punishment isn’t an effective deterrent to crime. Further, death penalty proceedings have a history rooted in racism as well as sentencing of innocent people. Death penalty sentences have not made our state safer, and therefore, we should focus on expanding evidence-based solutions to reducing violence such as increasing efficiency and effectiveness of public safety programs, eliminating racial and classist bias in policing and judicial systems, reducing drug abuse, and ensuring economic equity and sustainability in every community.”
A similar measure has been presented in the Pennsylvania House by Representative Chris Rabb who shared, “Our government does not have the moral authority to put Pennsylvania’s to death. The risks are too grave and the injustices irreparable.”
Kathleen Lucas of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty attended Governor Shapiro’s announcement and was impressed by “the soul-searching that went into his decision,” stating “After years of experience with our justice system, he realized that the death penalty system is fallible, and its results are irreversible. Rep Rabb and Senators Muth and Street have been leading the way in the legislature. I’m confident that abolition is within sight.”
The law makers believe capital punishment to be a relic of Pennsylvania’s past, with no role in a future of progressive criminal justice reform.