Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala yesterday took a courageous and reasonable step in using her discretion not to pursue the death penalty in homicide matters. I applaud her decision because she recognizes, as I do, that pursuing the death penalty is “not in the best interests of this community or in the best interests of justice."
Unfortunately, my fellow candidates have declined to pledge the same, despite the fact that Philadelphia is the only northeastern city where pursuing the death penalty is still possible, and despite evidence that capital punishment has cost our city and state a billion dollars since the 1970s. This money would be better spent on public education, social workers, and addiction treatment programs, things that prevent crime and actually do make us safer. In human terms, this money is the equivalent of 500 new public school teachers per year statewide every year since the 1970s.
Finally, it is worth remembering that since 1962 no one in Pennsylvania has been executed against their will, while six people on death row have been exonerated.