DA Association Squares Off Against Death Penalty Opponents

Jul 4, 2018

Pennsylvania’s District Attorneys Association is criticizing a recently-released study that gives the commonwealth a number of recommendations to improve how it handles its death penalty—including providing public funding for indigent defense and additional considerations for mentally ill offenders.

The report came from the Joint State Government Commission, and was seven years in the making.

A number of death penalty opponents have said they believe it vindicates their concerns, while others called it inconclusive.

Now, the commonwealth’s association of prosecutors has elaborated on their initial trepidation about the report—saying it doesn’t really cover new ground.

They also said it’s biased against the death penalty —a point commission member and Democratic Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery County took issue with.

“In fact, the four senators involved—me, Rafferty, Greenleaf, and Boscola—are split. I am against the death penalty, Boscola and Rafferty are for it, and Stewart is sort of on the fence, ambivalent about it,” Leach said.

The other three Senators involved—Lisa Boscola, John Rafferty, and Stewart Greenleaf—are a Democrat and two Republicans, respectively.

The DAs also said instead of saving money by getting rid of the penalty, the state should achieve that end by getting rid of “frivolous” appeals in the adjudication process.

Leach called the assertion a disturbing proposition.

“I don’t understand. Given that close to 100 percent of death penalty cases are at least stayed, and in many cases reversed, what part of due process to they feel comfortable getting rid of?” he asked.

In the wake of the report Greenleaf, of Montgomery County, has begun work on a number of bills to address the report’s concerns

They include changing how death penalty juries are formed, and making it easier to get clemency.