A Pennsylvania Inmate Dies of COVID-19 While Awaiting Mercy from the Governor
Bruce Norris, who was serving life in a Pennsylvania state prison for his role in a 1975 robbery and murder, died of COVID-19 on Saturday at age 69.
Norris is one of more than 2,300 prisoners across the United States who have died of coronavirus-related illnesses behind bars. What makes Norris’ case stand out was that Pennsylvania’s Board of Pardons had recommended his sentence be commuted by the governor back in early December. But Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf had not acted on the recommendation. While Norris was awaiting Wolf’s mercy, he was infected by his cellmate and died.
Norris, who had expressed regret for his crime, earned a bachelor’s degree behind bars. He had been in jail for 45 years.
Wolf’s office blamed the process for the governor’s failure to act. A spokesperson sent a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer: “The recommendations are processed by Board staff and then through a thorough legal review before heading to the governor’s desk for consideration. Upon receipt of the written recommendations the governor will review each case individually and weigh his decision after factoring in the ef
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