Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Morning Call: Death Penalty in Pennsylvania

The Allentown Morning Call takes an interesting, indepth look at the death penalty in Pennsylvania. It has been 12 years since Pennsylvania executed a convicted killer, but in that time, death row cost taxpayers more than $27 million.

Every year, the state Department of Corrections spends an estimated $10,000 more for each inmate on the country's fourth largest death row compared to other prisoners. That's despite a de facto halt on capital punishment in Pennsylvania for all but prisoners who voluntarily go to their executions. The last person put to death against his will was in 1962, half a century ago, reported The Morning Call.

The most recent to be executed, in 1999, was Philadelphia torture-murderer Gary Heidnik—and only because he bowed to it by waiving his appeals. Since then, the state has housed on average 227 inmates a year facing death sentences, for an additional cost of $27.24 million, or $2.27 million annually.

According to The Morning Call, Heidnik's July 6, 1999, execution was the first and only conducted in the state's then-new execution complex, a former field hospital that was opened two years earlier on the grounds of Rockview State Prison .

It cost taxpayers $118,539 to turn the building into a maximum security center with new cells, secure phones and an electronic monitoring system — a price kept down by the use of prison labor, according to the state Department of General Services.

Read full article here.

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