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November 13, 2020

Pressley, Durbin, Leahy, Booker To Trump Administration: Suspend All Federal Executions During Transition Period

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON –  Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today called on the Trump Administration to suspend all federal executions so the incoming Biden-Harris Administration can evaluate and determine the future use of the death penalty by the federal government. 

For more than 17 years, no federal death sentence was carried out.  Then, in July 2020, Attorney General Bill Barr recklessly restarted federal executions.  In less than three months, the Administration executed seven people—more than the total number executed over the previous six decades.  The Department of Justice has scheduled another execution for November 19, and two more in December 2020.  

“President-Elect Biden’s plan for strengthening America’s commitment to justice includes the elimination of the federal death penalty and Vice-President-Elect Harris is an original cosponsor of legislation we have introduced to eliminate the federal death penalty. A record number of Americans voted in favor of President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris and they deserve an opportunity to implement their policy agenda without the Trump Administration rushing to take preemptive and irreversible steps,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to AG Barr.  “While you will remain in office for a few more weeks, going forward with executions in the weeks before the new administration takes office would be a grave injustice.”  

Last year, Congresswoman Pressley introduced legislation to prohibit the use of the death penalty at the federal level and require re-sentencing of those currently on death row. The legislation comes after AG Barr announced that federal executions will resume for the first time in more than 16 years. Senators Durbin, Leahy and Booker introduced the companion legislation.

The death penalty is outlawed in 21 states, including Massachusetts, Illinois, Vermont, and New Jersey.  

Full text of today’s letter is available here.

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