Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pennsylvania: Critical Clemency Ruling

The Associated Press reports that a federal judge has "reaffirmed a ruling that could make it easier for inmates serving life sentences in Pennsylvania prisons to get commutation requests considered by the governor." The ruling focuses on an amendment that was part of an "anti-crime package" advocated by Gov. Tom Ridge. It required unanimous approval of the State's five-member Pardons Board in order for a commutation of sentence to be recommended to the governor. The result of the change as been 3 commutations of sentence in the last 12 years. Previous to the amendment, a mere majority vote was needed, and commutations of sentence were granted more frequently. But U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo now says the amendment should not be interpreted to apply to those convicted before 1997 - a ruling which could affect the fate of literally thousands of prisoners. See story here.

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