-- Majority Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) held a press conference today to express his concern that Gov. Tom Wolf recently imposed a moratorium on Pennsylvania’s death penalty.
“Often lost in the discussion of capital punishment is true concern for the victims and their families,” said Marsico. “I am disappointed that Gov. Wolf has re-victimized those families by suddenly and without any public discussion imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania.”
Marsico has long been a supporter of a strong, fair death penalty. In the 1995 Special Session on Crime, he authored House Bill 1. That bill ensured that the governor must sign a warrant for a death sentence within a specific number of days after judicial reviews end, unless a pardon is granted or the defendant’s sentence is commuted.
“I can only imagine the pain and anguish of the victims’ loved ones. For those families, the moratorium just re-opens those wounds,” said Marsico. “The requirement for the governor to sign a warrant for a death sentence in a timely fashion gives finality for those the victims have left behind. It leads to much-needed closure.”
Cases for people who have been convicted of murder and sentenced to death are the most reviewed and scrutinized cases by the judiciary. Many defendants sit on death row for decades. During this time, defendants have their cases examined by both state and federal courts, usually multiple times, in order to ensure fairness. Defendants get multiple opportunities to appeal, and their claims are considered by multiple courts.
“The moratorium imposed by the governor will cause undue delays in the process and will only add to the excruciating pain for the already heavily burdened family and friends of those who have been murdered,” said Marsico. “While I agree that those sentenced to death are entitled to a careful review of their cases, those cases also need finality. The families of the silenced victims need finality. We must remember the victims who no longer have a voice in this process.”
Marsico intends to schedule a series of hearings, to be hosted by the House Judiciary Committee, in order to discuss the importance of the death penalty and how it is currently used in Pennsylvania.
“I want to give advocates of both sides of the issue, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and legislators an open and fair discussion about capital punishment. And, I want to make certain that the stories of the victims are not forgotten in this process,” said Marsico. “We will let the people of Pennsylvania decide what they believe about this issue.”
Representative Ronald Marsico
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Autumn R. Southard, 717.652.3721