Executive director of Death Penalty Information Center explains federal moratorium on executions

PITTSBURGH — After a 35-day trial, the decision on whether Robert Bowers will face the death penalty is now in the hands of a jury.

The jury will return to court first thing Wednesday morning to continue deliberations.

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Channel 11′s David Johnson spoke with Robin Maher, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“When we use the death penalty, there’s no do-over. We can’t undo executions,” Maher said.

This is a lesson learned after a “get tough on crime” period in the 90′s and the discovery that some of the convicted were actually innocent.

“So there’s been real profound concerns about’s use, consistent, for the last several years,” Maher explained.

Some states and the federal government have declared a moratorium or freeze on performing executions, including Pennsylvania, since 2015.

“There are a variety of good reasons to use a temporary pause in executions,” Maher said. “It gives people time to think, to study, to identify any system problems they might want to correct.”

Other states have abolished the death penalty or never had it.

“There are 23 states that are actively using the death penalty, but most of those states haven’t sentenced anyone to death or executed anyone in decades,” Maher said.

Currently, there is a federal moratorium on executions. If Bowers is sentenced to death, his execution will not take place until that moratorium is lifted.

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