Today's Harrisburg Patriot-News publishes the OpEd, "It's time to end the death penalty in Pennsylvania: As I See It." it's by Erich Prince.
The dichotomy between creating laws to protect human life and creating laws to permit the execution of citizens, who have been deemed immoral, has been challenged for centuries. In 1862, Victor Hugo wrote in Les Misérables,“What says the law? You will not kill. How does it say it? By killing!”
Surviving through numerous periods of social reform, the inhumane practice of capital punishment lingers in the United States and in Pennsylvania, where, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer in October of 2011, 32 percent of capital convictions are either reversed or subject to further hearings on suspicion of error.
"Changes reduce Phila. homicide trial backlog," is a Philadelphia Inquirer news report from last week. It's by Joseph A. Slobodzian.
Increased pay for court-appointed lawyers in death-penalty cases and increased scrutiny of potential capital cases by prosecutors have significantly reduced the backlog of Philadelphia homicide cases awaiting trial.
That's the conclusion of a report filed Wednesday with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by a Philadelphia judge overseeing changes in the city's homicide trial program.
According to the 11-page update by Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner, the number of untried capital cases in Philadelphia dropped from more than 100 in August 2011 to 40 a year later.
That number remained down in the first half of 2013 compared with two years earlier - with 55 untried death-penalty cases, Lerner wrote.
The average time for a homicide case to go from arrest to verdict also fell from 30 months in 2011 and 2012 to 17 months this year, Lerner wrote.
"It is clear beyond reasonable doubt," Lerner wrote, that the reforms implemented in Philadelphia "have resulted in enormous improvements in the fairness and efficiency of capital-trial litigation."
Lerner mostly recommended maintaining advances made rather than making new initiatives.