11.13.20

Leahy And Others Ask Trump Administration To Suspend All Federal Executions During Transition Period

In less than three months, Trump Administration executed seven people — more than the total number executed over the previous six decades; DOJ has scheduled another execution for November 19, and two more in December 2020. 

Leahy, Durbin, and Booker last year also introduced legislation to ban the use of the federal death penalty.

(FRIDAY, Nov. 13, 2020) -- U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), along with U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Friday called on the Trump Administration to suspend all federal executions so the incoming Biden-Harris Administration can evaluate and determine the future use of the death penalty by the federal government.  For more than 17 years, no federal death sentence was carried out.  Then, in July 2020, Attorney General Bill Barr recklessly restarted federal executions.  In less than three months, the Administration executed seven people—more than the total number executed over the previous six decades.  The Department of Justice has scheduled another execution for November 19, and two more in December 2020.  

“President-Elect Biden’s plan for strengthening America’s commitment to justice includes the elimination of the federal death penalty and Vice-President-Elect Harris is an original cosponsor of legislation we have introduced to eliminate the federal death penalty.   A record number of Americans voted in favor of President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris and they deserve an opportunity to implement their policy agenda without the Trump Administration rushing to take preemptive and irreversible steps,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to AG Barr.  “While you will remain in office for a few more weeks, going forward with executions in the weeks before the new administration takes office would be a grave injustice.”  

Last year, Leahy, Durbin, Pressley and Booker introduced bicameral legislation to immediately ban the use of the death penalty by the federal government after AG Barr announced that federal executions will resume for the first time in more than 16 years.

The death penalty is outlawed in 21 states, including Vermont, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey.  

Full text of today’s letter is available here and below:

 

November 13, 2020

Dear Attorney General Barr:

We urge you to suspend all federal executions so the incoming Biden-Harris administration can evaluate and determine the future use of the death penalty by the federal government. The failure to do so will cause irrevocable injustice.

For more than 17 years, no federal death sentence was carried out.[1] Then, in July 2020, you recklessly restarted federal executions.[2] In less than three months, the Administration executed seven people—more than the total number executed over the previous six decades.[3] The Department of Justice has scheduled another execution for November 19, and two more in December 2020.[4] 

The death penalty in America is disproportionately imposed on Black and brown people and low income people,[5] and at least 172 people sentenced to death have reportedly been exonerated after languishing for years on death row.[6] Despite clear flaws in the system, the Administration has aggressively pushed forward over objections from family members of victims and despite Eighth Amendment objections to the manner of execution.[7]

President-Elect Biden’s plan for strengthening America’s commitment to justice includes the elimination of the federal death penalty and Vice-President-Elect Harris is an original cosponsor of legislation we have introduced to eliminate the federal death penalty.[8]  A record number of Americans voted in favor of President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris and they deserve an opportunity to implement their policy agenda without the Trump Administration rushing to take preemptive and irreversible steps.

While you will remain in office for a few more weeks, going forward with executions in the weeks before the new administration takes office would be a grave injustice.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

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