The death penalty in Pennsylvania still exists, but no one has been executed in nearly 24 years.
In an announcement at Mosaic Community Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro called on the PA General Assembly to abolish the death penalty. He added he would not issue any execution warrants, extending the moratorium on the death penalty by his predecessor.
Governor Shapiro reiterated that the death penalty, as it currently stands in Pennsylvania, is only issued in guilty cases of first-degree murder, where there are also aggravating factors at the time of the crime. And even then, if someone is issued the death penalty, there are many appeals that can take years to process, all at the expense of taxpayers.
In the United States, 37 states have either abolished the death penalty completely or have not carried out executions in the last ten years. In 2022, there were fewer than 30 executions nationwide and fewer than 50 new death sentences, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
There is still a death penalty in Pennsylvania, but no one has been executed since 1999. That was nearly 24 years ago when Gary Heidnik was executed by lethal injection.
Attorney Shapiro mentioned the heinous killings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh, PA) and how the people he spoke with at the synagogue did not wish for the murderer to be sentenced to death, but rather pay the price by a lifelong prison sentence. “I listened to the members of the Tree of Life community and was blown away by their courage and their fortitude,” said Shapiro.
You can read the entirety of the press release detailing the announcement from Governor Shapiro’s office on their website.