By Victoria Lembesis
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressional lawmakers Friday called on Attorney General William Barr to suspend all federal executions until the incoming Biden-Harris administration is able to evaluate the cases.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, in a Congressional Letter to AG Barr, laid out their reasons why the Trump administration must not go forward with executions in the last weeks of the Trump presidency.
In less than three months, the current Trump administration has gone through with seven executions. It is noted in the Congressional Letter to AG Barr that these executions are “more than the total number executed over the previous 6 decades.”
The Department of Justice currently has scheduled an execution for next Thursday (Nov. 19) of Orlando Hall, a Black inmate convicted of killing a Texas teenager in 1994. Two other executions are set for December—Lisa Montgomery and Richard Moore.
The letter states, “The death penalty in America is disproportionately imposed on Black and brown people and low income people, and at least 172 people sentenced to death have reportedly been exonerated after languishing for years on death row.”
President-Elect Joe Biden currently has a plan to eliminate the federal death penalty, and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris, a former Attorney General in California, was also an original co-sponsor of legislation introduced to eliminate the death penalty.
They state that “going forward with executions in the weeks before the new administration would be a grave injustice.”
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley tweeted of their call to action for AG Barr, “The American people have spoken and the federal death penalty should be abolished.”
The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization committed to exonerating individuals who it claims have been wrongly convicted and working to reform the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice, has shown support for the call to suspend all federal executions until the incoming administration begins its term.
The nonprofit stated in a tweet on Friday that “172 innocent people, 90 of whom are Black, have been exonerated from death row. The death penalty is flawed and racially discriminatory. We stand with you in calling on AG Barr to suspend the federal death penalty until the incoming administration can evaluate capital punishment.”
Victoria is a senior at Loyola Marymount University studying Communication Studies and Public Relations. She is originally from Orange County, California.
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