End the death penalty in Pennsylvania!

From: Death penalty Focus:

It’s time to stop wasting scarce resources on Pennsylvania’s broken and unfair death penalty system that risks giving death sentences to innocent people, is costly, and fails to meet the needs of victims’ families.

Please take action now to make your voice heard!

Urge your legislators to vote Yes on SB 423, which would repeal Pennsylvania’s death penalty.

And simultaneously urge your legislators to No on HB 317, which would expand Pennsylvania’s death penalty.

You may personalize both the subject line and the letter below.

Please go here to sign: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1265/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6243

This action has been brought to you by Death Penalty Focus and Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Ky. Pulls Inmates Out of Privately Run Prison

It’s always a good day when CCA loses business, isn’t it? Now, if we can convince Vermont lawmakers that cost and recidivism rates would be both lower if they house prisoners in state facilities, it would be yet another step forward!


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky has pulled out of a privately run prison in the eastern part of the state because of what state officials describe as budget concerns, leaving only out-of-state inmates at the facility.

The last Kentucky inmates at the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville left the facility June 14, said Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections.

The prison, owned and operated by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America, also houses about 560 inmates on contract for Vermont, which uses out-of-state prisons to alleviate overcrowding.

The decision to remove inmates from the Beattyville prison saves Kentucky $43.62 per inmate per day — about $23,500 a day when Kentucky’s inmate population at the prison was at its peak of just over 540 inmates.

Crime Report on CCA Scandal

The Crime Report

 Three years ago, the new administration of Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and many legislators were talking up the idea of Idaho’s next major prison being a private-sector operation. Imagine the potential savings, proponents said then. Maybe eventually Idaho could get out of the bricks-and-mortar corrections business altogether, says the Twin Falls (Id.) Times-News in an editorial. That was before Idaho got to know the Corrections Corporation of America better. For nearly a decade, CCA has operated the 2,000-inmate Idaho Correctional Center — easily the most trouble-prone prison in the state’s history.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that the state is fining CCA more than $40,000 and ordering it to fix problems with drug and alcohol treatment and medical care at ICC. Ten of 13 drug and alcohol counselors at the lockup aren’t qualified to provide treatment under CCA’s contract with the state. In March, the American Civil Liberties Union sued CCA — and the state — claiming violence is so rampant at the ICC that it’s known as “gladiator school” among inmates. The lawsuit claimed Idaho’s only private prison is extraordinarily violent, with guards deliberately exposing inmates to brutal beatings from other prisoners as a management tool. The ACLU’s Stephen Pevar said he has sued at least 100 jails and prisons, but none came close to the level of violence at Idaho Correctional Center. “Our country should be ashamed to send human beings to that facility,” he said. Not many legislators have much appetite anymore for another ICC-style facility in the state. There’s much more enthusiasm for alternative sentencing and drug, alcohol and mental-health courts to keep Idaho’s inmate numbers as low as possible.
Link: http://www.magicvalley.com/news/opinion/article_af794e96-3578-5ae5-91e1-78340daff5ee.html

Filed under: Article, Private Prisons, State Prisons


HARRISBURG Press Release, March 16 – State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware/Montgomery) announced at a Capitol press conference today that he has introduced legislation that would repeal the use of capital punishment in Pennsylvania.

The bill, which is currently circulating for co-sponsorship, would eliminate the option of capital punishment during criminal sentencing. Instead, the legislation would only allow for a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“It’s important to remember that the death penalty is a state program which, like all other programs, we must continually re-evaluate,” Leach said. “Is it cost effective? Is it reliable? Does it accomplish its intended goals? The answer to each of these questions is no, and it is time for Pennsylvania to eliminate this costly and ineffective practice.”

Speakers at the press conference included Leach; Ashlee Shelton, Executive Director of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty; Rev. Walt Everett; and Ray Krone, a former death row inmate who was later proven innocent and exonerated from the crimes for which he was charged. Krone is now an advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.

The press conference coincided with a lobby day put together by the nonprofit organization Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Over forty advocates visited Harrisburg to meet with state legislators regarding the death penalty and to urge the suspension of executions until a thorough study of the capital punishment system can be conducted.

Shelton noted that the American Bar Association of Pennsylvania reported in 2007 that Pennsylvania’s capital punishment system is racially and economically biased and runs the risk of executing innocent people. She added that the mission of Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty is to abolish the death penalty completely.

“Philosophical beliefs about the death penalty aside, we must recognize the deadly risks involved with allowing a flawed system to exist and tackle this issue on a public policy level. We are here today to ask that both chambers commit to studying the system thoroughly so that we can move forward in a unified way once the findings are revealed,” Shelton said.

An editorial by The Patriot News noted that Pennsylvania, which has the 4th-highest number of death row inmates in the U.S., could save money by doing away with the death penalty. “Some studies say the price tag is as much as $2 million more for a prosecutor to put someone on death row than it would be to send someone to prison for life,” the article stated.
In addition, the Philadelphia-based American Law Institute recently argued against the death penalty, and said that it is impossible to administer the death penalty fairly and is a practice that should no longer be used.