PA governor commutes sentence for convicted murderer

    Governor Ed Rendell has commuted the life sentence of a man convicted of 2nd degree murder. The pardon is only the second commutation granted by Rendell since he took office in 2003, and only the third since 1994, when pardoned murderer named Reginald McFadden killed two people and raped a third.

    Governor Ed Rendell has commuted the life sentence of a man convicted of 2nd degree murder. The pardon is only the second commutation granted by Rendell since he took office in 2003, and only the third since 1994, when pardoned murderer named Reginald McFadden killed two people and raped a third.

    The incident prompted the state to raise the bar for lifers seeking commutation. The law now requires a unanimous vote of the board of pardons, before the request can go to the governor’s desk. Bill DeMassio is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society.

    DeMassio: So basically that change in the pardon’s board statute really put a choke hold on, not on releases, because people don’t get released unless the governor signs releases. It takes the power away from the governor and says any one member of the pardon’s board could stifle the process and stop it.

    DeMassio says Pennsylvania is one of just three states where those convicted of 1st and 2nd degree murder can receive life without parole.

    The state now has more than 4,000 people serving life sentences. About a quarter of those never pulled the trigger, but acted as accomplices.

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