Pennsylvania’s prosecutors are warning Gov. Tom Wolf’s death penalty moratorium could affect plea bargains and how judges and juries view executions.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association released a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday that said the Democratic governor has misinterpreted the term “reprieve,” arguing his moratorium violates the state constitution.
The prosecutors say reprieves can only halt a criminal sentence for a defined period of time and for a reason that relates specifically to a particular convict.
Wolf announced the moratorium in February, suspending plans to execute Terrance Williams for a 1984 robbery and fatal tire-iron beating of another man in Philadelphia.
The governor argues the current system is error-prone and expensive. He plans to issue reprieves while a legislative committee prepares a report about the state’s use of capital punishment.