Rabb hosts Montalvo at Capitol, highlights legislation to repeal death penalty

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., hosted Noel Montalvo at the state Capitol Monday for a discussion of wrongful incarceration and the death penalty.

Montalvo was exonerated on Dec. 18, 2023, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2003 conviction and death sentence for a double homicide, following decades of forensic reanalysis and DNA testing showing that Montalvo was not involved in the crime.

“Our criminal legal system is simply too fallible and biased -- and the benefits too small -- to continue this practice,” Rabb said of the death penalty. “Mr. Montalvo’s case is a prime example of the structural flaws of a system influenced by the legacy of lynching. He suffered immense trauma and spent years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. And worse yet, he easily could have died for it. We should consider ourselves fortunate that Mr. Montalvo was exonerated. Even one innocent life taken at the hands of the state is one too many.”

Rabb reintroduced H.B. 999, which would repeal Pennsylvania’s death penalty, on Feb. 16, 2023. The bill was successfully voted out of the House Judiciary Committee on Oct. 31, 2023, with bipartisan support, and awaits a vote on the House floor.

Pennsylvania has exonerated 12 people since 1976. Over that same timeframe, the commonwealth has executed three people, all of whom forwent their right to appeal.