Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman has made criminal justice reform a big part of his campaign. As lieutenant governor, Fetterman oversees the board of pardons and called it his “bully pulpit” for criminal justice reform.
But what kind of “reform” is Fetterman looking to enact? In January, he named long-time criminal justice reform advocate Celeste Trusty to serve as secretary of the board. Trusty has repeatedly bragged about her “friendship” with Mumia Abu-Jamal, who murdered Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981. Freeing Abu-Jamal because of his “wrongful conviction” has been a radical left cause for everyone from the pope to pop stars so it’s not surprising that a radical criminal justice reform advocate would claim to be his friend.
Why is Fetterman — a potential United States Senator — allying himself with an avowed friend of a cop killer?
Fetterman has put his Board of Pardons tenure front-and-center in his campaign against Republican Mehmet Oz, bragging that he “transformed” the lieutenant governor position by leading “the fight to free the wrongfully convicted and give second chances to deserving longtime inmates.” But Fetterman has also faced scrutiny for his board record. He voted to free numerous murderers, often over the wishes of families of victims. He was the only member of the five-person board to vote last year to pardon Wayne Covington, who was convicted of first-degree murder after killing a man to steal money to buy heroin. Covington struck a plea deal in his case in order to avoid the death penalty, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Fetterman, who has said his main reason for running for lieutenant governor was to oversee the Board of Pardons, has worked closely with Trusty over the years. Both have pushed for an end to mandatory life sentences for people convicted of second-degree murder. They took part in a “Power of a Pardon” event last year, when Trusty served on Fetterman’s campaign. Trusty worked on the campaign from March 2021 until January 2022, according to Federal Election Commission records.
In July, there was a major blowup when Fetterman claimed that Pennsylvania could release one-third of its prison population and still be safe.
John Fetterman on crime: crazier than you think. pic.twitter.com/0xmMnUU9fI
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) July 18, 2022
Politifact claimed the charge was “mostly false” because Dr. Oz said that Fetterman wanted to release “dangerous criminals. Indeed, Fetterman said he wanted to release most felons 50 years of age or older, which would amount to about one-third of the felons currently behind bars. But since not all of them are “dangerous criminals,” Politifact decided to split hairs and call the charge “mostly false.”
Far more importantly, along with the appointment of Trusty to the pardon’s board, Fetterman’s plan is that of a radical trying to effect radical change in the criminal justice system.
And he wants to use the people of Pennsylvania as guinea pigs to test out his wacky theories.