The Daily News reports today that Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of inmates serving life without parole — even though 15 other states have higher murder rates.
Given the hefty annual cost of housing inmates – about $32,000 per person – some experts believe that the state should revisit sentencing guidelines to give judges discretion when meting out punishment to those convicted of taking part in murders.
Others say that the concerns of victims’ families should take precedence over those of people who have been convicted and sentenced to die behind bars.
“I know that for my families it gives them a little bit more sense of closure when a defendant gets a life sentence and they know that’s it,” said Tracy Simmons, program director for Families of Murder Victims, a nonprofit organization that works in city courts. “They know they’re not going to get a call that they’re up for parole.”
Only Florida ranks higher than Pennsylvania on the “life without parole” list. Sen. Daylin Leach is crafting a bill that would allow parole for some types of murders.