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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Wolf moratorium renews debate on death penalty

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Feb 25, 2015 4:49 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, February 26, 2015:

The moratorium on the death penalty that Governor Tom Wolf announced this month has reinvigorated the debate of the contentious issue in Pennsylvania. The Governor said he imposed the moratorium in order to examine ways to make the system of capital punishment more accurate and efficient.  He also said he wanted to review a report on the death penalty being compiled by the bipartisan Task Force and Advisory Commission.

While Pennsylvania has not had an execution since 1999, there are currently 186 inmates on death row. After the moratorium, Wolf was sued by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who says that the governor lacks authority to grant reprieves to those convicted and sentenced. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is also opposed to the moratorium.

Governor Wolf has been praised for the moratorium by the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and advocacy group Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, based in York.


Criminal defense and constitutional rights lawyer Spero Lappas and Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed and criminal defense and constitutional rights lawyer and death penalty expert Spero Lappas appear on Thursday's Smart Talk to discuss the death penalty.

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  • Rich img 2015-02-26 09:28

    About 20 years ago a woman from near Lebanon left her abusive cop-husband. She eventually began living with another Man. The cop-husband tracked them down using police tools and murdered the other man with his police gun.

    If any case cried out for the death penalty it was this. The DA chose not to try to get the death penalty. The DA association and the Various police organizations did not decry this decision.

    It is immoral to seek to death penalty when premeditated murder by policemen is not considered for execution.

  • Rich img 2015-02-26 09:39

    In two of the three 1990's executions, the closest survivors of the victims opposed the executions.

  • Lisa img 2015-02-26 09:47

    It is supremely arrogant to assume that our appeals process prevents "factually" innocent persons from receiving the death penalty. I would assume that is what the DA's of other states also thought.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-02-26 09:55

    Submitted via email with no name:

    How does society's legal killing as a way to solve a problem show that killing is wrong?

    How many countries use the death penalty?

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-02-26 11:01

    Jennifer Storm, PA's Victim Advocate writes...
    I just want to add that the majority of the families we have had to break this news too are outraged frustrated and upset that this is coming to a halt. The primary concern for the victims in these cases is not only just that the sentence is imposed and carried out but that while the appeals process is going through that the confinement of these individuals is separate and that they remain on death row.