Support a Moratorium on the Death Penalty

On September 28, Senator Jim Ferlo introduced Senate Bill 1110, a bill calling for a two-year suspension of executions while a thorough study of the capital punishment system is conducted. SB 1110 is co-sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Robert Mellow and Senators Wayne Fontana, Shirley Kitchen, Vincent Hughes, Larry Farnese, and Leanna Washington.

 

We are calling on you to act today. If your legislator is already a co-sponsor, please call and thank him/her. If not, please contact your Senator and ask for her/his support. Some suggested talking points are below. Your action around this important legislation is a key piece of the big picture as we work to eradicate executions in Pennsylvania.

 

Here is what you can do:

  • Call your senator and urge him/her to support Senate Bill 1110.
  • Hand write a letter using the following talking points—handwritten letters are much more effective than typed letters or e-mail messages. Also, if you can, print the articles referenced below and send them along in your letter. Remember to personalize your letter as much as possible.
    Numerous exonerations over the last few years demonstrate that there are innocent people on death row.

NOTE: While handwritten letters are best, we have provided a letter that you can send via e-mail at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5415/t/5044/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=2093. We urge you to personalize the letter to make it more effective.

 

Talking Points:

  • The PA Bar Association reported that we are at risk of executing an innocent person—this is not a risk that we should be willing to take.
  • Six people have been released from Pennsylvania’s death row due to innocence and an astounding 135 have been exonerated nationwide.
  • Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas in 2004 despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that leads to his innocence. Click here for a link to view the full story.
    The cost of capital punishment is too high!
  • New Jersey found that it is as much as three times more expensive to execute someone than to keep them in prison for life.
  • We have alternatives to executions in Pennsylvania; we can keep our communities safe by handing out strict sentencing. All the money we save can go toward policing, safety measures for our prison guards and a host of other preventative services.
  • At this time of national economic crisis and a statewide budget freeze—now is a good a time as ever to halt this wasteful system and look for ways to make our society a better place. Click here for a link to a New York Times editorial about the cost of capital punishment.
    Racial, geographic and economic disparities!
  • African-American defendants in Philadelphia are four times more likely to be given a death sentence than white defendants.
  • Although Philadelphia’s murder rate is only 3 times greater than that of Harrisburg, the proportion of those condemned to death is 11 times greater in Philadelphia.
  • Pennsylvania provides no funding for indigent defense services, opting instead to rely on county-funded indigent defense systems. As a result, the quality of Pennsylvania’s capital indigent defense system varies widely among counties and fails to afford uniform, quality representation to many capital defendants.

 

Thank you for taking action!

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