Efforts to reform Palestinian Authority second degree murder law continue
By the Parish of Marley | Pennsylvania Capital-Star
More than 1,100 Pennsylvanians are serving time for second degree murder, meaning they have been convicted of a situation – not their actions – that carries with it a life sentence without parole.
For example, in Pennsylvania, a person convicted of second degree murder can expect to die behind bars for his involvement in a crime that may or may not accidentally lead to murder.
“These people are not Hannibal Lecter,” Lt. Gov. John Fetterman said in a town hall Tuesday with supporters of reform. “These are individuals who may have been involved in a bad decision, a terrible mistake, or something they had no idea was going to happen.”
Prison reform advocates have called Pennsylvania’s criminal murder law “archaic” law that has devastated people’s lives. And reports from the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity legal aid group show that this has particularly affected communities of color.
This is something that Fetterman, House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia and advocates for change would like to see overturned.
McClinton, a former public defender, said she saw first-hand how the Pennsylvania court system is inaccessible – or when justice is “flatly denied,” she said.
“Under the Murder or Murder Act, which is so archaic in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we have to make an effort, both on the ground outside the Capitol and, of course, inside. on Capitol Hill to change the law, ”McClinton said. .
Shawn Bushway, senior policy researcher at RAND Corporation, said it didn’t make sense to punish first and second degree murder in the same way, adding that the law did little to prevent crime . Bushway noted that if a person was convinced at 20, they were probably not the same person at 40 anymore.
There is no guarantee that a person will never commit another crime, but Bushway said the cost benefits are small – citing the potentially reduced costs to the prison by having fewer people incarcerated.
“I think the broadest conversation is about why this rule is in the books in the first place and some of the distortions that result from it,” he said. “And I think that’s the thing that bothers me the most.”
Going forward, McClinton said Pennsylvania needs to fund indigent public defense – it’s the only state that doesn’t allow it – to allow parole options after a certain period of time and reform the state’s pardon process. .
“We must finally invest in our communities to do all we can to stop a vicious cycle,” said McClinton.
She added: “We know that we have work to do because it destroys not only the lives of these people but also the outside world, it unfortunately delights families, especially families and communities of color.”
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