Governor Vows Not to Sign Execution Warrants, Wants Lawmakers to Abolish the Death Penalty

Governor Josh Shapiro said he will not issue any execution warrants during his term and called on the General Assembly to abolish the death penalty. Governor Shapiro was joined by elected leaders – including Sen. Vince Hughes, Sen. Nikil Saval, and Rep. Rick Krajewski – community activists, and criminal justice advocates for the announcement.

The governor made the announcement and delivered these remarks at Mosaic Community Church in Philadelphia:

“Last week, the first execution warrant came across my desk.  Under our system here in the Commonwealth, the Governor has the authority to sign off on executions.

I have painstakingly considered every aspect of Pennsylvania’s capital sentencing system, reflected on my own conscience, and weighed the tremendous responsibilities I have as Governor.

And I am here today in this Church to tell you I will not issue any execution warrants during my term as Governor.

When an execution warrant comes to my desk, I will sign a reprieve each and every time.

I’m also respectfully calling on the General Assembly to work with me to abolish the death penalty in Pennsylvania – once and for all.

Pennsylvania should do what 25 other states have done in outlawing the death penalty or refusing to impose it – including many of our neighbors such as New Jersey, Maryland, and West Virginia.

The Commonwealth shouldn’t be in the business of putting people to death. Period.”

This is an about face for the Governor who supported capital punishment and called it a just punishment for the most heinous crime but said his views evolved over time.

“When the first capital cases came to my desk in the Attorney General’s office, I found myself repeatedly unwilling to seek the death penalty.  When my son asked me why it was OK to kill someone as a punishment for killing someone, I couldn’t look him in the eye and explain why”, said Shapiro.