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Pennsylvania Governor Keeps Authority to Postpone Executions
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Tom Wolf

Summary: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court established that the constitution gives the state governor authority to halt death penalties indefinitely.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Democractic Governor’s ability to postpone executions in the state. Gov. Tom Wolf was given the backing by the state’s highest court to issue temporary reprieves in death penalty cases under his constitutional authority.


Prosecutors had challenged his authority to do so since reprieves have never been used to indefinitely delay executions before. Wolf has granted this reprieve for five convicted killers since becoming governor last year. He questions the fairness of the death penalty.

Wolf suspended any death penalties from being completed in February until he could gather more information on capital punishment. He stated at the time, “This moratorium is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted on committing heinous crimes. This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive.”

The death penalty has been facing intense scrutiny for the last few years as availability to the proper drugs has been limited, resulting in several mistakes. Many states have opted against the practice. Pennsylvania has not executed an inmate since 1999 and only three between then and 1976. The state is one of the least-active states with it comes to the death penalty despite having one of the largest death-row populations.

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