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The Board of Pardons unanimously recommended Bruce Norris for a commutation in December, but Tom Wolf had yet to approve it.
Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has jumpstarted the state’s pardons process, while Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s self-styled progressivism isn’t winning over advocates.
The state Board of Pardons recommended last year that hundreds of people’s criminal records be cleared. Months later, more than half are still waiting for Tom Wolf’s signature.
Incarcerated people like John Brookins, who is serving life without the possibility of parole, will have to wait until June or later for a chance at clemency.
They tell Tom Wolf that taking any unilateral actions to reduce the state’s prison population would endanger public safety.
The Office of General Counsel determined that the governor could likely use reprieves to release vulnerable people from prison to control COVID-19’s spread, but the office is advising against it, according to internal emails obtained by The Appeal.
Advocates have called on Governor Tom Wolf and state Department of Corrections officials to release elderly and infirm people from state prisons. But the law is limiting how quickly they can move.
An Appeal documentary on life without the possibility of parole—and its impact on loved ones—in the state.
The state’s narrow interpretation gives too much weight to voices that support a punitive criminal legal system, advocates say.
This month, nine people received commutations from life sentences, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is calling for changes to the commutations process to give more people second chances.
People seeking commutations from life sentences encounter a steep hurdle in the state’s board of pardons. The board will convene on Sept. 13 to review more than 20 cases.