Democrats to Introduce Bill to Ban Federal Death Penalty

A group of Democrats led by Representative Ayanna Pressley and Senator Richard Durbin will introduce legislation to ban the federal death penalty following the resumption of executions by the Trump administration after a 17-year hiatus.

“Ending the federal death penalty — which is as cruel as it is ineffective in deterring crime — is a racial justice issue and must come to an end,” Pressley, said in a statement. “We must finally abolish this inhumane form of punishment and put an end to Donald Trump’s unprecedented killing spree.”

The proposed Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2021 would prohibit capital punishment at the federal level and require re-sentencing of those on death row. Pressley, a Massachusetts representative, and Durbin, a senator from Illinois, will be joined by 70 members of Congress in introducing the legislation.

Thefirst federal execution since 2003 was carried out last July under an order from then-Attorney General William Barr.

Pressley wrote aletter to President-elect Joe Biden in December urging him to bring an end to capital punishment on his first day in office. The letter was signed by 44 of her colleagues including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. All three, along with Pressley, are members of the so-called Squad of progressive representatives.

Biden has pledged toend the death penalty as a part of his criminal justice reform platform.

Pressleyintroduced legislation to prohibit the death penalty at the federal level during the last session of Congress after the resumption was announced. The bill was never brought to the floor for a vote.

A total of10 people have been executed by the federal government since July. A federal judge ruled that three remaining executions scheduled during Trump’s final days in office cannot be conducted unless measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are implemented.

After U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died of injuries he suffered in the Capitol riot last week, Representative Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, tweeted “I hope all Americans agree that Officer Sicknick’s murderer deserves the death penalty and should be so prosecuted.”

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