State Rep. Chris Rabb, of Philadelphia, has confirmed the rumor that he is planning to introduce a bill to repeal Pennsylvania’s death penalty law. I fully support his decision. I believe abolition of our capital punishment system is long overdue.
My belief isn’t unusual. Philadelphia is the only major city in the Northeast covered by a death penalty law. Even in Philadelphia, it has been sought and imposed less in recent years.
And at what cost? According to a 2016 Reading Eagle study, the capital punishment system has cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $816 million for just three executions. That $816 million doesn’t even include the additional costs of the more than 250 overturns of sentences and convictions.
Appeals and accompanying higher costs are unavoidable because we don’t want to execute people for crimes they did not commit. Six men on death row have been exonerated.
Gov. Tom Wolf placed a moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania in 2015. Although this was a step in the right direction, there are still more than 170 people on our state’s death row.
The announcement that Rabb will introduce a bill to abolish this flawed system entirely is welcome news. I challenge all of our elected representatives to take a close look at the myriad flaws in our death penalty system. I’m convinced that this closer examination will cause them to join Rabb in calling for repeal.