Forty-seven years have past since Pennsylvania last executed someone who hadn’t “dropped their appeals.” Since restoration of the Pennsylvania death penalty in the disco era 21 people on death row have died of natural causes, 3 agreed to drop the appeals and be executed. Two hard hitting recent pieces by AP & DPIC on the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Bottom line, the capital punishment system — no matter what you perspective as a supporter or opponent — in the Keystone state is broke. DPIC notes:
In Pennsylvania, the state goes through the expensive and time-consuming process of trying many death penalty cases and fighting appeals, but almost all cases end with a life sentence. According to a recent Associated Press study of what happens in capital cases in the state, 124 death sentences have been overturned and resentenced. When these cases went through the justice system a second time with the original errors corrected, 95% (118) resulted in life sentences or less. Only 6 inmates were resentenced to death. Pennsylvania has the fourth largest death row in the country, but the only people who have been executed were three inmates who waived their appeals. The last execution in a fully contested case was 47 years ago. Twenty-one inmates on death row have died of natural causes or suicide since 1983. Six inmates have been exonerated when their convictions were reversed and they were freed following acquittals or dismissal of all charges.
Eight inmates sentenced to death have had their sentences vacated and been released, some due to new evidence such as DNA. New trials ordered in 118 cases have resulted in life sentences or lengthy terms short of life. Six inmates granted new trials have been convicted and resentenced to death.