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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 29, 2019 10:27 AM
From: Representative Christopher M. Rabb and Rep. Francis X. Ryan
To: All House members
Subject: Death Penalty Repeal
Join us in our bipartisan effort to repeal the death penalty in Pennsylvania. It is not only an ineffective deterrent, it is an incredibly costly and flawed system of punishment.

One innocent life taken at the hands of the state is one too many

Although Pennsylvania has the country’s fifth highest death row population, currently at 175 inmates, only three executions have occurred in recent decades, and the state has not executed anyone who did not voluntarily give up their appeals in more than 50 years. According to a Reading Eagle analysis, those three executions have cost taxpayers $816 million. Additionally, the Urban Institute’s study on the cost of the death penalty in Maryland estimates a death penalty case costs $2 million more than a non-death penalty case. We believe this to be an irresponsible use of our state’s limited resources.

Additionally, since 2010, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 18% or higher than in states without it. Thus, it is clearly not an effective deterrent to criminals. Furthermore, we know that when a person is convicted of the death penalty they will start an appeals process lasting decades, making it more likely that they die of old age rather than lethal injection.

One innocent life taken at the hands of the state is one too many

There are also incredible risks and irreparable injustices of having the death penalty. Of the 408 Pennsylvania prisoners sentenced to death since 1978, 169 were re-sentenced to life, 16 were re-sentenced to a term of years, and 6 were exonerated. Therefore, the state has not only freed twice the number of people it has executed in recent decades, there is a risk of executing an innocent person every time we have an execution as long as the death penalty remains on the books.

Lastly, according to a recent study, at least 4.1% of all defendants sentenced to death in the United States in the modern era are innocent. For this reason, the risks of continuing the death penalty far outweigh the benefits, to which, there are few, if any.

One innocent life taken at the hands of the state is one too many

Introduced as HB2211