“Right now the death penalty is a joke. Even with signed warrants, the number of appeals is out of control. The victims have no rights and no voice.”

“The sentencing took place in 2000; 15 years later and the sentencing hasn’t taken place…ridiculous. In my opinion he should die the way he shot my brother-in-law; 3 times.”

The above statements were given anonymously to the Pennsylvania Office of the Victim Advocate. That office conducted a very specific survey of its “418 current registered crime victims whose offenders are serving death sentences in PA in order to obtain their opinions, thoughts and feelings” after Gov. Tom Wolf placed a moratorium on executions. Registered crime victims in these cases are family members whose loved ones were murdered. 

The Office of Victim Advocate (OVA) “does not have a formal stance on the death penalty” and conducted the survey “in order to fully and accurately represent the views and opinions of those who are directly impacted by the moratorium.”

There has been so much emphasis placed on the rights of the perpetrator that the rights of the victims are overlooked. People are not given the death penalty lightly. I know how our own District Attorney agonizes over seeking the death penalty. The people sitting on death row deserve to be there. They did not steal a purse or assault someone. If they stole a purse, they killed its owner. If they assaulted someone they beat that person to death. Yet our Governor has exceeded his authority by issuing reprieves.

It would appear most of the people who have been effected the most feel the same way.

In early March 2015, the OVA sent out 418 surveys. Of this total 156 were completed and returned, a response rate of 40%.

Respondents were asked if they would support abolishing the death penalty if it was replaced with life without parole, and the offender would remain separate from the general population similar to what Pennsylvania currently has now with death row.

. 63.2% ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed’ with abolishing the death penalty under these circumstance

. 28.4% ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with replacing the death penalty under these circumstances

. The majority response (nearly two-thirds of respondents) stated they would not support abolishing the death penalty if life without parole and a version of death row replaced it.

Overwhelmingly the respondents felt that the sentence imposed by the court (which is the death penalty for all the cases involved here) should be carried out.

. 87.2% ‘strongly agreed’ with that statement

. 93.6% either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with that statement

. Only 3.8% either ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed’

Overwhelmingly the respondents agreed with the statement, “I support the death penalty.”

. 80.1% of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ with that statement

. 91% either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with that statement

The overall assessment of these results are that respondents strongly support the death penalty, feel the sentence should be imposed, and feel that there should be a specific time frame on any appeals.

There was one final anonymous comment that I am including:

“If you take a life, then yours should be taken.”

Bart

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