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After nearly a half-century in prison, Philly man is granted clemency at age 77

March 8, 2019, Samantha Melamed - The Philadelphia Inquirer

At a frail 77, William Smith, known to friends over his half-century in prison as “Smitty,” appeared likely to die in prison after the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons denied his commutation petition in 2017 by a single vote.

But, with support from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, the board reversed course — and on Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf granted Smith’s plea.

That makes five life sentences (plus one of 122 years) Wolf has commuted since taking office in 2015. And that’s as many as were commuted in the 20 years before he became governor. The practice fell out of favor in the 1990s, after a commuted lifer, Reginald McFadden, went on a killing spree.

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