- Thirty-seven lawmakers asked President Joe Biden to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates.
- The effort was led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri.
- Biden is opposed to the death penalty and campaigned on ending the practice.
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Over three dozen lawmakers, led by Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Cori Bush of Missouri, sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday asking him to commute the sentences of all remaining federal death row inmates and “recommit to the tradition of due process, mercy, and judicial clemency when it comes to matters related to the criminal legal system.”
The letter included co-signers like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Karen Bass of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Jamaal Bowman of New York, where they expressed “grave concerns regarding the death penalty” and criticised the pace of executions under President Donald Trump.
“Night after night in the final days of the Trump administration, the American people bore witness to the cruel and heinous practice of executions,” they wrote. “Americans from all walks of life appealed to the moral conscience of judges and the President to save the lives of those on death row. To no avail.”
Under the Trump administration, there were 13 federal executions. Before federal executions resumed in 2020, the last federal execution was carried out in 2003.
The signatories urged Biden “to take swift, decisive action” in commuting the sentences of death row inmates and accused Trump of enabling “carnage and unrestrained violence that must be rectified immediately.”
“This moment demands a series of meaningful actions to ensure that no President can authorise the killing of Americans through the death penalty,” they wrote.
Biden, who opposes the death penalty, instead favours inmates serving life sentences without the possibility of parole or probation.
When asked about Biden’s commitment to ending the federal death penalty during a Wednesday press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have updates on any immediate plans of action.
“The President, as you know, has stated his opposition to the death penalty in the past,” she said. “He remains â€” that remains his view. I don’t have anything more for you in terms of future actions or mechanisms, though.”
In the letter, the signatories remained hopeful that they could partner with Biden in halting future executions.
“We look forward to working with your administration to enact just and restorative policies that will meaningfully transform our criminal legal system for the better,” they wrote. “By exercising your clemency power, you can ensure that there would be no one left on death row to kill.”
They added: “Given the historic nature of your administration, this would be an unprecedented â€” but necessary â€” action to reverse systemic injustices and restore America’s moral standing.
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