“The current administration has weaponized capital punishment with callous disregard for human life. In the middle of our current public health crisis, the Department of Justice resumed federal executions and executed more people in six months than the total number executed over the previous six decades,” Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley wrote in a letter first obtained by CNN.
The Department of Justice has previously defended its decision to resume the federal death penalty this summer after all appeals were exhausted and the Supreme Court ruled in their favor to continue their plans, despite the global health crisis.
Ten federal death row inmates have been executed since July while several states have postponed executions because of the pandemic.
“With a stroke of your pen, you can stop all federal executions, prohibit United States Attorneys from seeking the death penalty, dismantle death row at FCC Terre Haute, and call for the resentencing of people who are currently sentenced to death,” wrote Pressley. “Each of these elements are critical to help prevent greater harm and further loss of life.”
Executive Director of the Fair and Just Prosecution Miriam Krinsky told CNN after a meeting with the Justice Department’s transition team earlier this month that stopping federal executions “doesn’t really require congressional action.”
The proposed executive order by Biden may be too late for three inmates — including the first White woman in the US scheduled to be executed in nearly 70 years — who are scheduled to die before Inauguration Day, January 20.
“Ending the barbaric and inhumane practice of government-sanctioned murder is a commonsense step that you can and must take to save lives … Research also reveals that capital punishment does not deter crime. Hence, there is no just reason to continue the death penalty,” wrote Pressley.