By Anika Khubchandani
WASHINGTON – The Trump execution spree—three people were due to be killed this week just days before the new administration takes over—has led Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to reintroduce the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2021.
This legislation represents a bicameral endeavor to ban the use of the death penalty at the federal level and demand re-sentencing of inmates currently on death row.
Undeterred by the immense amount of evidence and literature on the inefficacy and barbarity of the use of the death penalty, the Trump administration continues the practice of federal executions. Prior to July 14, 2020, federal executions stopped 20 years ago under the George W. Bush presidency.
Since then, Trump’s administration has killed 10 Americans by capital punishment.
“Despite the fact that his presidency will end in…nine days, the Trump administration plans to continue with its appalling spree of executions this week,” shared Senator Durbin. The executions of Lisa Montgomery, Corey Johnson, and Dustin Higgs were scheduled to take place this week.
Montgomery was killed early Wednesday but Johnson and Higgs received stays until March because they are recovering from COVID-19.
“State-sanctioned murder is not justice” but a “racial issue and must come to an end,” said Congresswoman Pressley. The death penalty disproportionately affects people of color and according to a nationwide study, “at least 1 in 25 people sentenced to death are innocent.”
Polling data in 2019 showed a “majority of Americans now say life imprisonment is a better approach for punishing murder” compared to the death penalty. A considerable amount of conservative leaders have advocated “an end to its use because it is costly, ineffective, and inaccurate.”
Pressley urges Congress to “urgently pass this legislation and bring an end to this barbaric practice.” Over 70 colleagues support Pressley and Durbin in their pursuit of the prohibition of capital punishment and 242 organizations endorse the bill.
Kristina Roth, the senior advocate for the criminal justice program at Amnesty International USA asserted that the death penalty, “like the rest of the U.S. criminal legal system… is rooted in racism dating back to slavery, Black codes, Jim Crow, and lynching.
“Racial bias, sentencing of people with severe mental and intellectual disabilities, and flawed legal representation are pervasive through the federal system,” she said, adding that the death penalty “is the ultimate violation of human rights.”
Anika Khubchandani is a 4th year student at UC Davis majoring in both Political Science and Economics. She is from San Jose, CA.
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