15 years without an execution: the death penalty in Pennsylvania

15 years without an execution: the death penalty in PA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has issued his 36th execution warrant.

Michael Parrish, from Monroe County, is scheduled for execution in October after being convicted of killing his girlfriend and baby.

But according to experts, if the current trend continues, it could be decades before that ever happens.

"Anyone who fights the death penalty today can go on for 15 to 25 years on death row," said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli.

Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the United States for the most people on death row.

Close to 200 people currently have a death sentence, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, but the state has executed just three people in the last 35 years.

Morganelli said lengthy appeals are a factor, but not the sole, or biggest influence.

"We have federal judges who constantly block these executions. It has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the defendant. It is because the federal judges are philosophically opposed to the death penalty," Morganelli said.

Other experts said overturned death sentences are also a reason.

While Morganelli said the delays are interrupting justice, he also said spending decades on death row isn't an enjoyable way to live.

"If you are on death row, you will have about 23 hours in a cell, out of a 24-hour day, in a cell, a very small cell. Be let out for like an hour. So, life is much harder on death row than people who have a life-sentence," Morganelli said.

According to a recent report by the NAACP, nearly 1,400 people have been executed in the United States since 1976.

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