Pittsburgh public radio WESA-FM reports, "PA Task Force Delays Deadline For Possible Death Penalty Reforms." It's by Kevin Gavin. Here's an extended excerpt:
The Pennsylvania Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment is nearing the end of a two-year comprehensive study of all aspects of the death penalty.
“No one has ever done this before in Pennsylvania,” said state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), whose legislation created the commission.
The Penn State Justice Center for Research, the Inter-branch Commission on Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness and the Joint State Government Commission are researching all aspects of capital punishment for the task force. They were supposed to report findings and make recommendations this month but have asked for an extension to spring to complete what Greenleaf calls a “very laborious and time-consuming” process, which involves examining death penalty cases in every county of the state.
Three prisoners have been executed in the commonwealth since 1976, two in 1995 and the other in 1999. During that same 37-year period, 1,352 prisoners were put to death in the U.S.
Greenleaf said the researchers are looking at policies, procedures and impact of the death penalty including whether it’s being applied disproportionately based on race.
“They’re having primary concerns themselves with statutory aggravators and mitigators; they’re the factors that come into play when a jury decides whether they give the death penalty or not,” Greenleaf said.
Of the 189 inmates on Pennsylvania’s death row, 101 are black — 53 percent. Louisiana has the highest rate of blacks on death row at 70 percent. Nationwide, 41 percent of those awaiting execution are black.