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Fetterman appointee to Pa. Board of Pardons sought to abolish mandatory life sentences for murderers

The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons (BOP) secretary appointed by the state’s lieutenant governor and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman repeatedly tweeted to “disarm the police” and advocated for abolishing mandatory life without parole sentences for first- and second-degree murder.

Celeste Trusty, the former Pennsylvania state policy director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), was appointed secretary of the Pennsylvania BOP by Fetterman in January. According to the government website, the board holds “tremendous power” and “awesome responsibility,” because it “reviews criminal cases, except impeachment to determine whether clemency should be recommended to the Governor for his approval or denial.” 

Fetterman is chairman of the board, and Trusty is responsible for providing him and the other board members with “support, information, and advice,” as well as overseeing the daily operations of the board’s office, according to the website.

Trusty, who currently describes herself on Twitter as an “advocate” and “agitator,” declared, “Disarm the police,” in two separate 2018 tweets that remain active on her account.

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In October 2020, during a virtual panel on criminal justice reform, Trusty argued in favor of abolishing mandatory life without parole sentences.

“One of the most glaring problems in Pennsylvania’s legal system is that we have mandatory life without parole as a sentence for first- and second- degree murder,” she said at the time. “And we also have many people serving these excessively long virtual life sentences, but we deny people serving these sentences any substantial avenues for relief.”

In January 2021, Trusty penned a written statement for a Pennsylvania policy hearing on racial and gender bias in the court system, in which she also advocated for getting rid of mandatory life without parole sentences.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the front-runner in the 2022 Democratic Senate primary, campaigns at the Steamfitters Technology Center in Harmony, Pa, on March 4, 2022.

“Where Pennsylvania’s leaders can make an immediate and long-lasting positive impact on our communities of color is by prioritizing mechanisms, both legislative and non-legislative, to release people stuck serving extreme sentences,” she said. “Pennsylvania must abolish our mandatory life without parole statute,and create and expand mechanisms to provide relief for those currently stuck under this oppressive and illogical punishment. Our Commonwealth would reap great benefit from taking a more individualized method to accountability and punishment, instead of the one-size-fits-all approach we have taken and continue to take.”

Trusty’s comments fall in line with FAMM’s “Second Chances Agenda” in Pennsylvania, which aims to “repeal the mandatory life sentence statutes for first- and second-degree murder,” and “allow opportunities for parole for people with these convictions, and make these reforms retroactive.”

Celeste Trusty, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.

“All of us change and mature, and our laws should reflect that,” the agenda states. “Pennsylvania’s judges should have the discretion to impose individualized, appropriate sentences, and review unjust sentences.”

Fetterman is running against Republican candidate Mehmet Oz for the seat of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is not seeking re-election.

Fox News Digital asked Fetterman’s campaign whether he supports or disavows Trusty’s comments, and if he was concerned at all by the potential for political bias at the BOP due to her views.

“John, unlike Mehmet Oz, has actually taken on crime,” Fetterman campaign spokesman Joe Calvello responded in a statement. “As Mayor of Braddock and Chief Law Enforcement Officer, he worked with the police force to stop crime.”

“Under John’s leadership, Braddock went 5 and a half years without a gun death,” Calvello said. “John not only has worked hand-in-hand with the police, but he knows what challenges our police force face and how to support them. John supports common sense policies to provide more second chances that are supported by Democrats and Republicans alike.”

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