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Young Black People More Likely To Serve Life Without Parole Due To Higher Rate Of Second-Degree Murder Convictions


On today’s program: Young people of color are convicted of second-degree murder at higher rates than white people, resulting in more people of color serving sentences of life without parole; and the plaza at Hazelwood Green opened this past weekend, how this new space will be integrated into the larger community.

New report shows difference in second-degree murder sentences by race
(0:00 — 10:05)

In Pennsylvania, a conviction for first-degree murder or second-degree murder results in a mandatory life in prison sentence without parole.

Second-degree murder, also known as felony murder, is when a killing or death occurs during commission of a violent felony such as a robbery or kidnapping.

A report published last month highlights trends in incarceration for second-degree murder when it comes to race, a conviction for which over 1,100 people are serving in Pennsylvania.

Andrea Lindsay, is the lead investigator of this report with the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity.

Lindsay says this population of people were largely incarcerated at a young age at age 25 or younger, and are geriatric now, having been incarcerated for more than 20 years.

“They’re also many racial disparities in the population, where four out of five people incarcerated for second-degree murder in Pennsylvania are people of color and 70% of those people are Black,” says Lindsay.

Lindsay says the report shows how those incarcerated for the same type of offense but of different race are different from each other. For example, Black people were more often incarcerated at a younger age than white people, and thus could be sentenced to spend more of their life in prison.

Hazelwood Green Plaza is now open for visitors
(10:14 — 18:00)

The Hazelwood Green Plaza opened this past weekend: a $9 million investment to create the first outdoor public space in what used to be the site of the LTV Coke Works plant.

“Hopefully, it is the first big step in making sure that the Hazelwood Green site remains part of Hazelwood and is always seen as part of Hazelwood,” says Sonya Tilghman, executive director of Hazelwood Initiative, which is a partner on the project.

Tilghman says the steel mill was the “economic engine” for the area until the late 80s, but after the mill shut down, the site remained vacant. Now, she says it’s a good site for investment.

“It is going to be shiny and new, but we hope that through incorporating some of Hazelwood’s neighborhood history down there, through maybe art or design, that we can make sure that it is a community-driven thing and something that is accepted by the community,” says Tilghman.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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