Democrat John Fetterman: Emptying Pennsylvania Prisons by a Third Wouldn’t ‘Make Anyone Less Safe’

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman visits with people attending a Democratic Party event for candidates to meet and collect signatures for ballot petitions for the upcoming Pennsylvania primary election, at the Steamfitters Technology Center in Harmony, Pa., March 4, 2022. The fate of the Democratic Party is intertwined in a …
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Pennsylvania’s radical Lt. Gov. John Fetterman believes law-abiding Pennsylvanians would be no “less safe” with one-third of the state’s prison population prowling the streets.

Fetterman has spent recent days declaring he does not support releasing 33 percent of the state’s prisoners following an ad from his general election opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, that says he does.

Oz had already made the claim in a tweet last month, leading to a PolitiFact fact check on July 21, which determined it to be “Mostly False.” The outlet’s Tom Kertscher asserted that “we did not find an instance of Fetterman calling for the release of one-third of dangerous criminals.”

But a clip that Fox News brought to light on Wednesday shows Fetterman agreeing that such a move would not make Pennsylvanians “any less” safe than they are with convicted criminals behind bars.

Fetterman said on a zoom call, apparently referring to John Wetzel, the state’s former corrections secretary:

I was on a panel with Secretary [John] Wetzel earlier before the pandemic hit, and he said something remarkable that I agree with. He said, ‘We could reduce our prison population by a third and not make anyone less safe in Pennsylvania, and that’s a profound statement’.

Fox News went on to note:

The second claim in Oz’s ad, that Fetterman wants to eliminate life sentences for murderers, is also disputed by the Fetterman campaign. PolitiFact rated the claim “mostly false” this month, saying it was “similarly distorted” like the one-third claim.

Fetterman does, in fact, want to eliminate mandatory life-without-parole sentences for inmates convicted of second-degree murder, but PolitiFact said Oz’s claim “contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.”

“It’s hard to fit two different lies into a 15-second campaign ad, but we’ve learned to never underestimate Dr. Oz’s ability to mislead the American people,” said Joe Calvello, a spokesman for Fetterman, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

His campaign is reportedly pleading that television stations do not air the ad, asserting that it’s comprised of “blatant lies and misinformation.”

While Fetterman spars with Oz over his previous radical comments regarding the criminal justice system, he has been a major proponent of putting convicted murderers and others facing life sentences back on the streets in the Keystone State.

As Breitbart News noted Thursday night:

In his position as lieutenant governor, Fetterman heads the five-person Board of Pardons, and as the Philadelphia Inquirer has previously pointed out, recommendations for commutations of life sentences have skyrocketed since he assumed office in January 2019. From March 2019 through April 2022, the board sent at least 46 commutation recommendations to Gov. Tom Wolf (D).

“That’s compared with just six in Wolf’s first term, none under former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s one term, and only five during former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell’s eight years in office,” as the Inquirer reported in May.

In February of last year, Gov. Tom Wolf announced he signed the commutations of thirteen prisoners who were convicted on murder charges. The recommendations for clemency all came from the Fetterman-led Board of Pardons.

  • George W. Burkhardt, 83, Lancaster, served 30 years for Murder 2, recommended in Dec. 2020
  • Daniel Cummings, 75, Philadelphia, served 38 years for Murder 1, recommended in Sept. 2020
  • Eric I. Eisen, 52, Allegheny, served 26 years for Murder 2, recommended in Dec. 2020
  • Reid Evans, 57, Philadelphia, served 39 years for Murder 2, recommended in Sept. 2020
  • Wyatt Evans, 58, Philadelphia, served 39 years for Murder 2, recommended in Sept. 2020
  • Charlie J. Goldblum, 71, Allegheny, served 42 years for Murder 1, recommended in Sept. 2019
  • Charles M. Haas, 72, Philadelphia, served 41 years for Murder 2, recommended in Dec. 2020
  • Dennis Horton, 51, Philadelphia, served 27 years for Murder 2, recommended in Dec. 2020
  • Lee A. Horton, 55, Philadelphia, served 27 years from Murder 2, recommended in Dec. 2020
  • Avis Lee, 59, Allegheny, served 40 years for Murder 2, recommended in Sept. 2020
  • Francisco Mojita, Sr.,58, Philadelphia, served 28 years for Murder 2, recommended in Sept. 2020
  • Mildred Strickland, 75, Philadelphia, served 31 years for Murder 1, recommended in Sept. 2020
  • Gregory Stover, 55, Philadelphia, served 32 years for Murder 1, recommended in Sept. 2020
“Each of these Pennsylvanians is fully deserving of the chance to return to their families and start a new life,” said Fetterman. It takes a unanimous vote for the board to send Wolf a recommendation, though not all five members have to vote, meaning a 4-0 margin is just as effective as a 5-0 margin. It is unclear how many votes Fetterman cast for the individuals listed above. However, the Washington Free Beacon reported he has voted to release more prisoners serving life sentences than any other board member.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.