'We must move our country towards accountability and healing.'
Dozens of members of Congress are urging President Joe Biden to reverse his predecessor's federal execution policy, calling it a legacy of "carnage."
Thirty-seven lawmakers signed a letter on Friday, spearheaded by Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), that pushed Biden to commute the sentences of people currently on death row, adding that "ensuring that each person is provided with an adequate and unique re-sentencing process is a crucial first step."
"The legacy President Trump left behind is one of carnage and unrestrained violence that must be rectified," the letter stated. "We must move our country towards accountability and healing."
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there are 50 federal prisoners currently sentenced to death. Over 57% of them are Black, Latinx, or Asian.
The letter further urges Biden to consider the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act, sponsored by Pressley and Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, which calls for an end to the death penalty altogether.
"Until that legislation is law, it is incumbent upon the executive branch to end the barbaric practice of federal executions," the letter stated.
In a Wednesday press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about whether the Biden administration had considered a death penalty moratorium.
"The president, as you know, has stated his opposition to the death penalty in the past [and] that remains his view," Psaki said, adding that she would "circle back if there's more I can share with you" later.
Biden's campaign website states that he plans to abolish the death penalty at the federal level.
"Because we cannot ensure we get death penalty cases right every time, Biden will work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example," the website reads. "These individuals should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole."
Biden faces a grim legacy left by the Trump administration, which issued a spate of executions before he left office.
Last July, the Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr carried out the first federal execution in 17 years.
In total, the Trump administration executed 13 federal inmates, with the final one occurring just five days before Biden's inauguration.
The Associated Press noted at that time that it was unprecedented for the federal government to execute prisoners during a presidential transition period.
No other commander-in-chief carried out as many federal executions in over 120 years as Trump, according to the wire service.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.