‘Not In Good Conscience’: Gov. Shapiro Says He Won’t Enforce Death Penalty, Asks Legislature To Abolish It


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Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania discussed his Thursday announcement that he would not enforce the death penalty on CNN and was asking the legislature to abolish it, saying he would “be signing reprieves.”

“I found myself unable to ever seek the death penalty. In a private conversation I had with my then 8, 9-year-old son he asked me, ‘You know, dad, how is it that killing someone as a punishment for them killing someone else, how is it that that’s okay?’” Shapiro told CNN host Jake Tapper. “And you know, Jake, I couldn’t look my kid in the eye and answer that question.” (RELATED: ‘What Is The Death Penalty For?’: Parents Of Parkland Victim Decry Ruling That Spared School Shooter)

Shapiro made his Thursday announcement at Mosaic Community Church in Philadelphia, Fox News reported. Shapiro’s predecessor, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, also refused to sign execution warrants, Fox News noted.


Democrats have a one-seat majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, while Republicans control the Senate, according to Ballotpedia.

Tapper noted that Shapiro called for the death penalty to be applied in the wake of the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue that killed 11 people.

“It was after that and a combination of those cases coming across my desk as AG, my inability to look my own son in the eye and explain my position to him, and then I witnessed the courage and the grace of the families in Pittsburgh, who had a loved one killed while they worshiped, who said to me, ‘Please, please discourage them from pursuing the death penalty,’” Shapiro said. “If they could take that position after suffering what they did, then I certainly needed to rethink my position. And I did.”

Shapiro’s comments come two months after then-Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon announced she would commute the sentence of every prisoner on death row. Among those spared were a man convicted of torturing and murdering a toddler and two men who carried out a bombing that killed two police officers.

“I just found myself in this position that I announced today where I could not in good conscience as the governor of the commonwealth ever sign an execution warrant and instead I’ll be signing reprieves,” Shapiro said.

Pennsylvania currently has 128 people awaiting execution, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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