Governor Ed Rendell has added four more human beings' names to the list of those waiting to be executed by the state of Pennsylvania.
In a press release dated June 25, 2010, Governor Rendell signed the death warrants of James W. VanDivner, 61, of Fayette County; Anthony Fletcher, 54, of Philadelphia; Dennis L. Miller, 47, of Chester County; and Bryan Sean Galvin, 45, of Berks County, increasing the grand total of death row inmates to 220.
The warrants are four more scars of hypocrisy for both the judicial system of Pennsylvania, and the state as a whole. These scars burn deep into our society, and they are not allowed to heal, as our elected officials continue to sacrifice the lives of human beings--and the credibility of our judicial system--for the sake of political gain. The example set by Governor Rendell throughout his eight year administration has been abhorrent. The Governor is responsible for signing the warrants of nearly half (108) of the 220 individuals currently residing on death row. Mr. Rendell could have used these cases as an opportunity to take a stand against capital punishment. He could have refused to send these 108 individuals to their deaths. Instead, Mr. Rendell has sought to end the lives of four more individuals, bog down the legal system even further, and cost the taxpayers of this state money that they cannot afford to spend in these trying economic times.
Furthermore, the statistics of Governor Rendell's death penalty warrants are concerning in the racial disparity of the cases. According to the Pensylvania Department of Corrections, 58 of the 108 death penalty warrants were for black individuals. This means that 53% of the individuals sentenced to death by Governor Rendell were black, in a state which is 85% white, and 11% black. This is a truly alarming statistic, especially coming from a politician whose political resume entails both the District Attorney and Mayor of Philadelphia. In the most populous city in the state, Mr. Rendell could have/should have gained first hand exposure to the terrible inequality in the Pennsylvania Justice System. Mr. Rendell could have used this experience to gain credibility in a fight against capital punishment on both a state and national level. Instead, he has chosen time and again to sacrifice our credibility for the sake of an outdated, ineffective, and hypocritical form of punishment. With these four new death penalty warrants, the Governor is adds more scars of hypocrisy to our state. I wonder how many more it will take for us to no longer recognize ourselves.
Posted by Aaron Spangler, PADP Intern, July 26, 2010