Lifers seeking clemency in wake of US ruling

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - September 3, 2009 Two inmates will appear before the pardons board Thursday, but they face steep odds: Only three life sentences have been commuted since 1997.

A 1997 amendment to the state constitution requires lifers to get a unanimous vote of the five-member pardons board before the governor may consider their commutation request. Before then, lifers needed only a majority vote.

A June 11 ruling by U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo says the pardons board may not apply the tougher 1997 standard to inmates who committed their crimes before 1997.

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