End Death By Incarceration: Scott v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Pa

In 2020, Amistad Law Project, along with the Abolitionist Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights, sued the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole on behalf of several people serving life without parole. Our clients did not intend to kill anyone but during the course of a felony, someone was killed. Many of the people sentenced under this scheme were accomplices, such as lookouts or getaway drivers, who themselves did not take anyone's life or were people whose acts are attributed to a death, such as a heart attack, that happened during the course of a felony. Under the felony murder rule, they were sentenced to life without parole which we call death by incarceration. It is our assertion that sentencing people to die in prison under the felony murder rule is a cruel punishment under the PA constitution. We believe our clients should have the opportunity to go before the Parole Board and gain their freedom.

Our case was initially denied by Commonwealth Court and went on appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Sadly it was denied in October 2022. However, we continue to fight for pathways home for people who were disproportionately sentenced to death by incarceration through the felony murder rule. 

Read the complain in Scott v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. 

Read the Majority Opinion in Scott v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. 


Marie Scott poses for the camera in a prison photo
“When I came to Muncy to serve out my life sentence, there were only six of us serving life sentences. Today, almost half a century later, two of the six have died. The four of us remaining are close to if not already in our 70s, and all we seem to be doing is waiting around to finish our punishment of life without parole by dying, despite the fact that we do not pose any threat.

We are human beings who made terrible choices when we were very young. Some of our brains weren’t fully developed either. For those of us who have served almost 50 years, this doesn’t have to be the story of lifers in Pennsylvania.

You see those old and sick not receiving the proper medical treatment throughout decades of imprisonment. And then they die, leaving you in fear of the same suffering. Having outside support can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.” - Marie Scott