Pennsylvania governor says he won't sign execution orders, calls for repeal of the death penalty
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) announced Thursday that he would not approve any execution warrants while in office and "called on the General Assembly to abolish the death penalty," NBC News writes.
"I will not issue any execution warrants during my term as governor. When an execution warrant comes to my desk, I will sign a reprieve each and every time," Shapiro said at a news conference in West Philadelphia, adding that he received his first execution warrant since taking office last week. The state, he added, "shouldn't be in the business of putting people to death."
Shapiro's announcement mirrors the practice of his predecessor, Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who issued a moratorium on executions in 2015. Shapiro's refusal to sign off on the warrants will "effectively impose a moratorium on the death penalty in a state where it has been sparsely used," The Associated Press writes. Pennsylvania is among the 27 states that permit the death penalty, with 101 inmates currently on death row, but it "hasn't had an execution in 24 years," AP adds. Only three executions have occurred since 1995, per data from the state Corrections Department, and all three took place under Republican Gov. Tom Ridge.
Shapiro's opinion on state executions has shifted since his time as attorney general. On Thursday, he said he once "believed that the death penalty should be reserved for the most heinous crimes," but was influenced to change his mind after speaking with the families of the victims of the 2018 mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
"It's hard to imagine a more heinous crime than murdering 11 people as they pray. And candidly, my first reaction was that the killer deserved to be put to death," he said Thursday. "Over time, however, my belief on this topic has evolved."