Death Penalty Critics Decry Lapses in Criminal Justice System
April 20, 2008 — The father of a murder victim and a man who spent 16 years in state prison before being exonerated for a triple slaying appeared at the School of Law to promote a repeal of the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
Lorry Post, the executive director of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, and Harold Wilson, a South Philadelphia native who was the 122nd American freed from death row, spoke on March 20 at an event sponsored by the school chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
“I am not for easy sentences for murderers,” Post told a packed classroom of students and visitors. “We should not be about killing other people.”
Post described his struggle of nearly 20 years to cope with the murder of his daughter, whose own husband killed her.
“I do not want to dishonor her name,” Post said. “She would not want anyone killed in her name.”
Wilson recounted 16 years of bleak and sometimes horrifying prison life after he was convicted of three brutal murders that occurred in 1988.
Grave discrepancies in trial evidence, the release of a training video that showed the prosecutor describing techniques for assembling a biased jury in capital cases and indications of an ill-prepared defense counsel led the state Supreme Court to order a new trial in 2000, Wilson said.
Released from prison in 2005, Wilson supports the passage of Senate Bill 850, which would create a commission to study the death penalty in Pennsylvania and suspend executions until the group completes its work.
“The truth must be told about why we cannot continue to support capital punishment in this state,” Wilson said.
Wilson and Post’s message resonated with students.
“You can’t listen to these people and feel the death penalty is working,” 2L Dan Siedman said.
More News »