UPDATE (07/14/20): On Tuesday, July 14th, the federal government performed its first execution of a death row inmate in 17 years following a turn in policy by the Trump administration. With several other prisoners scheduled to be executed over the coming days and weeks, it is time Congress acts to end this barbaric practice.
Despite an ongoing broad national shift away from support for the use of capital punishment, in 2019 Trump ordered the death penalty to be reinstated after a 16 year moratorium on executions. No explanation was given for this change in policy.
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. The United Nations has called for a global ban on the practice. Many questions remain open about the cruelty of death by lethal injection. Another major concern 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%.
Allowing the Trump administration to leverage such a momentous policy change to distract people from more inconvenient news stories is despicable. H.R.4052 puts a stop to the death penalty at the federal level.