The saga of the commutation of Reginald McFadden is a tortuous story of blunders, coincidences, and numerous instances of governmental officials tempting fate. It has the makings of a Serial true-crime podcast. In states throughout the country, there are lifers who are unfairly paying the price for the actions of one person who should never have had her or his life sentence commuted. This is the second in a series of two essays that explore Reginald McFadden’s commutation. This Part considers whether, in hindsight, there was any sound basis for McFadden’s release given the policy grounds for commutations and describes the ample indications in McFadden’s record that his sentence should not have been commuted, the changes in Pennsylvania’s commutation process that make it unlike that the mistakes that led to his release will reoccur, and the further reforms required to restore confidence and efficacy to the commutation process.
Regina Austin, The Saga of Reginald McFadden—“Pennsylvania’s Willie Horton” and the Commutation of Life Sentence in the Commonwealth: Part II, 112 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY ONLINE 163 (2022).