After a 16 year moratorium on federal executions, the Trump administration reinstated the federal death penalty in 2019 despite an ongoing broad national shift away from support for the use of capital punishment, putting 13 inmates to death in the waning months of his presidency. In response, the Biden administration and Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice announced they were reviewing the policy and temporarily halting federal executions, leaving the door open for future federal executions. This policy stands in stark contrast to state moratoriums on executions to prioritize prisoner health during the pandemic, reductions in death penalty sentences and a dip in executions in state prisons. Two states have outlawed this practice and there is momentum to abolish it in many states.
The application of the death penalty is a hugely troubling responsibility. A growing number of Americans are in favor of abolishing it entirely. The death penalty has been abolished in 106 countries with another 28 having moratoriums or effectively not using the practice. A major concern with the practice in the United States is the high level of racial disparity in who is sentenced to die; almost 42% of death row prisoners are black, when the overall population is 14%.
It is time to abolish the federal death penalty with legislation that ends this barbaric practice rather than allowing the death penalty to be restored or ended by the executive branch. For this reason, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) has introduced legislation that would end the Federal death penalty. H.R. 262, the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act, would end the practice of sentencing people to death and would also resentence those currently on death row.
Demand that your representative support H.R. 262 to finally end the federal death penalty.