PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman talked with WPHT midday host Dom Giordano about the lack of communication that occurred before Governor Tom Wolf imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania.
“We weren’t surprised. We heard the governor as a candidate talk about this issue, and certainly we knew his personal feelings about the death penalty…What we did as an association is that immediately prior to his election, we reached out to him, and having listened to some of the objections that he raised, we sent a very detailed letter to him endeavoring him to share our position, and asking him to engage with us in dialogue. We thought it was important for there to be a conversation. I think what was so frustrating to our association was that we were completely ignored. This is a critical topic that we are all intimately aware of, involved with and probably have more information than most people he’s talking to and yet we were just completely summarily ignored.”
Ferman is confident that she and her colleagues across the state only go after the death penalty when they feel it to be the most appropriate.
“When you look across Pennsylvania, at those cases that we chose to seek the death penalty, it’s been done very carefully, and very cautiously with an eye towards finding those circumstances where the most severe penalty is appropriate…The scrutiny that is given to those cases, the juries, our judges, and all the way through our courts is like nothing else, like no other analysis that we give to any other topic. So, if we’re trying to accomplish something that says, ‘we’re only going to use this most serious penalty if we’re sure,’ we get to that place. We get to that place where we’re sure. We know that it’s not any other person. We know we have the right guy.”
While she is aware that Wolf is not alone in his opposition to the death penalty, more often than not, she has seen that those that agree with him pursue their goal in “abusive” ways.
“There’s a sense that those who are opposed to the death penalty just engage in abusive types of litigation: raising issues, re-raising issues, re-raising issues, there’s never any finality. The defender’s office has been chastised by our courts in a number of different cases for these kinds of tactics…If the public has a different feeling about that, the way to address that now is legislatively, but if we’re going to have it, let’s find a way to give finality to these cases. “