Facts about Pennsylvania's death penalty

Started by heidi salazar, July 27, 2009, 12:30:05 AM

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heidi salazar

The Associated Press
Facts about Pennsylvania's death penalty:

PENNSYLVANIA'S RECENT EXECUTIONS: Gary Heidnik died by lethal injection July 6, 1999, for the torture murders of two women. Leon Moser died by lethal injection Aug. 16, 1995, for the shooting deaths of his wife and two daughters. Keith Zettlemoyer died by lethal injection May 2, 1995, for the murder of a friend who planned to testify against him

PENNSYLVANIA'S LAST EXECUTION OF INMATE WHO HAD NOT DROPPED APPEALS: Elmo Smith was electrocuted April 2, 1962, for the rape/slaying of a seventeen-year old girl.

INMATES WHO HAVE DIED AWAITING EXECUTION IN PENNSYLVANIA: 21 since 1983, most due to natural causes; two suicides

PENNSYLVANIA DEATH ROW: 223 inmates, including five women, the nation's fourth-largest death row, behind California, Texas and Florida. Condemned men are held in restricted housing at state prisons in Greene and Graterford, women at Muncy State Prison. Executions are carried out at Rockview State Prison near State College.

EXONERATIONS/NEW TRIALS: Eight inmates sentenced to death have had their sentences vacated and been released, some due to new evidence such as DNA. New trials ordered in 118 cases have resulted in life sentences or lengthy terms short of life. Six inmates granted new trials have been convicted and resentenced to death

DEATH WARRANTS: Since taking office in January 2003, Gov. Ed Rendell has signed 94 execution warrants. Former Gov. Mark Schweiker signed 18, and former Gov. Tom Ridge signed 220.

EXECUTION HISTORY: Pennsylvania recorded 1040 executions through 1962, beginning with hangings by the early colonists. The commonwealth was the first state to abolish public hangings in 1834, after which prisoners were hanged inside county jails. In 1913, the state took over executions using the electric chair, putting 350 inmates to death from 1915 to 1962. Lethal injection was adopted as the execution method in 1990.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Perhaps the nation's most famous death row inmate and one of the longest-serving in Pennsylvania, convicted of the 1981 murder of a police officer. Abu-Jamal lost his bid for a new trial earlier this year. Prosecutors are appealing an order for a new penalty hearing at which he could get a life sentence rather than death.


Sources: Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; Death Penalty Information Center, Washington


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