Attorney Robert Dunham, a longtime leader in the fight against the death penalty in Pennsylvania, has been named the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. For the past 20 years, he has served as an appellate litigator in capital cases in Pennsylvania, most recently as an assistant federal defender in Harrisburg.
At its high point, Pennsylvania had about 250 people on death row. Now the number has dropped to about 180. Just three people have been executed since Pennsylvania reinstituted capital punishment in 1978 - two in 1995, and one in 1999 - and only because all three ended appeals and asked for death.
Several states have abolished the death penalty in recent years, including New Jersey. Other states have imposed moratoriums; Gov. Wolf recently imposed one in Pennsylvania.
In an interview, Dunham said what he called the "innocence revolution" has spread doubt about the death penalty. As people have been cleared by DNA evidence, he said, this has in turn raised doubt about eyewitness testimony, informant testimony, and other forensic work. - Craig R. McCoy