The organization, originally named Pennsylvania Abolitionists United Against the Death Penalty, was founded in 1997, at a time when public support for capital punishment in Pennsylvania had reached an apex and death sentences were at an all-time high. The founders of the organization successfully challenged the prevailing political paradigm, built a statewide anti-death penalty infrastructure with thousands of members, and helped to slow the momentum of pro-death penalty forces. Following the 1994 election of Governor Tom Ridge and legislative changes designed to accelerate the signing of death warrants, the Commonwealth resumed seeking death and performing executions after a three-decade hiatus. The population on death row soon grew to more than 245, the fourth largest in the country. Pennsylvania’s last three governors’ â€Ridge, Mark Schweiker, and Edward Rendellâ€ have signed a total of 280 death warrants, and three executions have taken place since 1995.
The Abolitionists ushered multiple moratorium bills into the PA state legislature during the organization’s time working primarily out of Philadelphia.
In 2007, the organization branded itself Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and continues to be the largest anti-death penalty organization in the state of Pennsylvania. PADP is the convening organization for the Pennsylvania Moratorium Coalition which is made up of 18 diverse organizations, all calling for a halt on executions.