PA Inmates Sue To Challenge Governor’s Parole Moratorium


Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s four-week-old moratorium on paroling inmates has been challenged in a lawsuit contending that he has no constitutional authority to halt parole, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Civil-rights lawyers Leonard Sosnov and David Rudovsky sued for four inmates whose paroles were canceled. Sosnov called the moratorium “blatantly unconstitutional.” “It’s very clear that the governor cannot second-guess sentences or the grant of parole,” said Rudovsky. “Does the governor have the power to hold someone forever, even after the expiration of their sentence?”

Rendell froze parole on Sept. 29 in reaction to the Sept. 23 killing of Philadelphia police officer Patrick McDonald by a paroled felon. He named John Goldkamp, head of Temple University’s criminal-justice department, to do a top-to-bottom review of how the Board of Probation and Parole decides who gets paroled. Prisoner advocates say the state prison system is overcrowded and depends on the monthly release of about 1,100 parolees to operate safely. The inmate population Sept. 30 was 46,883 – 8 percent above what officials say is needed to maintain “quality of life and safety for both staff and inmates.”


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