We Celebrate Small Progress at the Board of Pardons and We Demand Even More
Amistad Law Project’s Statement on the September 2020 Public Hearings
Today we celebrate small progress at the Board of Pardons and we demand even more. As a result of this week’s hearings at the Board of Pardons 9 incarcerated people, over 40% of the cases being heard, received a recommendation for commutation by the Board and will likely come home, pending Governor Wolf’s signature. We are elated for Avis Lee, Mildred Strickland, Henrietta Harris, Kevin Butler, Daniel Cummings, Reid Evans, Wyatt Evans, Francisco Mojica and Gregory Stover, and celebrate with their communities, which will be stronger upon their return. People obtaining their deserved freedom is a joyful thing, and brings us closer to a true healing and safety for our communities.
While we are elated for those that might come home to their communities upon receiving the Governor’s signature, we are deeply disturbed by the Board’s denial of so many exemplary candidates for commutation. People like Felix Rosado, Michael Rinaldi and Richie Marra should be out here with us. We will continue to fight for a commutation system and a Board of Pardons that can hold the complex realities of accountability, mercy, and humanity and we will hold the members of this Board accountable when they neglect their responsibilities.
The progress shown by today’s results is no accident. Movements across Pennsylvania have been fighting for a fair commutation process for years. After decades of a completely broken commutation system, today’s hearing is evidence that we are taking some small steps in the right direction.
However, the journey isn’t complete yet. All rehabilitated lifers must have a pathway home. While the masses are rising up to defend Black lives and reclaim funding for our communities, the Board of Pardons voted too many times for mass incarceration and the continued separation of families. Fueled by hope and care, we will organize and build power across the state to bring rehabilitated people home from prison and end perpetual punishment. We refuse to give an inch in this struggle.