On Wednesday, July 8, 2020 a class action lawsuit challenging PA Second Degree Felony Murder Rule and Death-by-Incarceration (“DBI”) Sentence, commonly known as Life Without Parole (“LWOP”), was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, by the Abolitionist Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Amistad Law Project on behalf of six (6) PA prisoners: Marie Scott, Normita Jackson, Marsha Scaggs, Reid Evans, Wyatt Evans, and Tyreem Rivers, after they were convicted of felony-murder in their late teens or early 20s (they have all spent between 23 and 47 years in prison) challenging the State prohibition on “parole eligibility” for those serving life sentences after conviction under the “felony murder rule.” It is the first challenge of its kind in the country and argues that “mandatory” Life Without Parole sentences for those who did not kill or did not intend to kill are unconstitutionally “cruel” under the Pennsylvania Constitution. The complaint argues that sentences of DBI, which the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized are akin to the death penalty in their severity and irrevocability, are disproportionate and serve no legitimate penological interest when applied to individuals who do not kill or intend to kill as part of their crime. It notes that Pennsylvania is outlier within the United States and around the world in terms of the number and rate of prisoner serving DBI-LWOP sentences. Lifers Inc. arguably supports the lawsuit and asks that family members of prisoners, the public, and grassroots groups also support the complaint. In addition, we strongly urge and remind family members, friends, grassroots groups, and the public not to lose focus or abandon Lifers main challenge, which is for one principled-system of “Parole Eligibility Legislation” for all “Mandatory”Life-Sentences” on a case-by-case basis. – Kevin “Saleem” Mines, President – Lifers Inc. (SCI-Phoenix).
Class Action Lawsuit Challenging PA Second Degree Felony Murder Rule and Death-by-Incarceration (“DBI”) Sentence