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Pennsylvania Prosecutors Issue Response to Joint State Government Report on the Death Penalty

HARRISBURG, PA − Pennsylvania’s prosecutors today said the long-overdue report by the Joint State Government Commission on the death penalty covers little new ground and glosses over important findings that fail to fit the narrative that death penalty opponents had hoped would be revealed.

PDAA’s complete response to the Report may be found here.

“The report couldn’t produce the system-wide indictment death penalty opponents wanted because the facts don’t match their narrative,” said Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) President and Berks County District Attorney John Adams. “Instead, we find ourselves responding to the same-old anti-death penalty talking points.”

In its 29-page response, the PDAA offered additional context and clarification to the larger points of the report, including the glaring mischaracterization and minimization of critical findings by one of the Report’s primary researchers, Professor John Kramer, that capital punishment in Pennsylvania is not disproportionately targeted against defendants of color. The Report also fails to adequately recognize the voice of victims.

The response also addresses inaccuracies and deficiencies in the report regarding the cost of capital cases, access to and funding of a proper defense, and outright false assertions regarding the intellectually disabled, and the court’s determination of a defendant’s competency.

“This report could have been so much more than what it is,” said Adams. “By ignoring the most
important and newest findings of the Kramer study, and continuing to present unsubstantiated accusations as truth, this publicly-funded report failed in its mission to be a credible or objective resource for elected officials and public policymakers to consider.”

Carol Lavery, former Victim Advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Pamela Grosh, Program Director, Victim Witness Services Office of the District Attorney of Lancaster County joined the PDAA in signing on to its response. Both were members of the Advisory Committee.

Response to the Joint State Government Commission’s Report on Capital Punishment in Pennsylvania: The Report of the Task Force and Advisory Committee

I. OVERVIEW Nearly seven years ago, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a Resolution tasking the Joint State Government Commission of the General Assembly with the responsibility of examining capital punishment in Pennsylvania. Individuals were selected as Advisory Committee Members and over the years worked to develop a report. The Advisory Committee was made up largely of death penalty opponents. The Senate Resolution

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PDAA ISSUES INITIAL STATEMENT ON LONG-OVERDUE DEATH PENALTY REPORT

Absent broad perspective, intellectual honesty and concept of balanced justice, PA District Attorneys say report on capital punishment will carry no weight. HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) today provided a first response to a long-overdue report on the death penalty issued by a panel largely comprised of anti-death penalty advocates.  PDAA President John T. Adams said the

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PDAA Support Letter for HB 2321, 2324, and 2325

June 4, 2018 Dear House Judiciary Committee Member: I am writing to highlight three important pieces of legislation that will be before you in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. HB 2321 by Representative Bloom, HB 2324 by Representative Barbin, and HB 2325 by Representative Everett are designed to help our most vulnerable testify in court when they have been victims of

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VICTIM-FOCUSED CRIMINAL JUSTICE IMPROVEMENTS EXPECTED TO MOVE THIS WEEK

HARRISBURG, PA – Pennsylvania’s prosecutors say they need new tools to help victims of crime and hold perpetrators of economic crimes accountable. This week, the Judiciary Committees in both the state House and Senate will consider several bills designed to address shortcomings in the law to help better protect the most vulnerable victims of crime in the criminal justice process, ensure

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Pennsylvania District Attorneys Issue Best Practices on Body-Worn Cameras

Policy provides guidelines on use, procedures, storage, public release, and supervision of body-worn cameras for law enforcement. HARRISBURG, PA – Recognizing that law enforcement practices must keep up with available technology and investigative tools, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (“PDAA”) today released new guidance and a model policy to assist police departments in the use of body-worn cameras. The recommendations provide agencies

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PDAA Responds to Governor Wolf and Meek Mill call for Criminal Justice Reforms

Harrisburg, PA -- The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association President and Berks County District Attorney John Adams issued the following statement in response to a news conference today with Governor Tom Wolf and rapper Meek Mill: "Experienced leaders in Pennsylvania law enforcement have a long history of supporting earnest and responsible reforms to the criminal justice system. In fact, prosecutors have been part

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PDAA ISSUES STATEMENT ON RESIGNATION OF BILL HIGGINS

HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) President and Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams released the following statement today after the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office announced multiple charges against Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins who subsequently resigned from office: “The allegations presented today are beyond troubling. The people of Bedford County have been betrayed in an unimaginable way.

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PDAA Support for HB 149

Dear Senate Judiciary Committee Member: I am writing to express the strong support of the PDAA for HB 149, which will be before you today. This is important legislation designed to reduce instances of witness intimidation. You are all aware of the problems associated with and prevalence of witness intimidation. One form of intimidation we have seen is the taking of pictures

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PDAA Support for S.B. 501

Dear Chairmen Greenleaf and Leach: I am writing to express our support for SB 501. We believe this legislation by Senator Killion will help reduce domestic violence fatalities and other serious crimes. The link between domestic violence and firearms-related crimes is, unfortunately, significant. By way of example, on November 10, 2016, Officer Scott Bashioum of the Canonsburg Police Department was fatally shot

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