The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

August 18, 2012

Four may be executed in 11-day span

SUNBURY — While Pennsylvania has not executed a death-row inmate since 1999, a rash of death warrants signed in the past 10 days by Gov. Tom Corbett could see four men lethally injected within 11 days in October.

Corbett has signed four execution warrants since Aug. 8, including three on Thursday, bringing his total to 19 in fewer than two years in office.

A review of statistics from the state Department of Corrections shows Corbett is about on average for the number of execution warrants signed by the past four Pennsylvania governors at this stage of their terms.

“Pennsylvania law is unusual in that the governor is required to sign deaths warrants at different points of the process,” said Kathleen Lucas, executive director for Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a grassroots organization working to end capital punishment in the state.

This began in 1995, when then-Gov. Tom Ridge signed into law a bill that forces Pennsylvania governors to sign execution warrants within 90 days from the time the state Supreme Court rejects a death-row inmate’s automatic appeal.

The measure also requires the governor to schedule the date of execution for within 30 days after signing the warrant.

However, “how many warrants a governor signs is really a function of what is going on in the court systems at the time,” Lucas said.

For more details, see Sunday’s edition of The Daily Item.

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