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Group of Democratic lawmakers urge Biden to commute the sentences of dying row prisoners

In a letter despatched Friday, the lawmakers urge Biden “to take swift, decisive action,” saying that “commuting the death sentences of those on death row and ensuring that each person is provided with an adequate and unique re-sentencing process is a crucial first step in remedying this grave injustice.”

“We look forward to working with your administration to enact just and restorative policies that will meaningfully transform our criminal legal system for the better. By exercising your clemency power, you can ensure that there would be no one left on death row to kill. Given the historic nature of your administration, this would be an unprecedented — but necessary — action to reverse systemic injustices and restore America’s moral standing,” in response to the letter.

There are presently 49 folks on federal dying row, 21 of whom are White, 20 who’re Black, seven who’re Latino and one who’s Asian.

A commutation is totally different from a pardon in that the prisoners would have their sentences lowered however wouldn’t be cleared of the costs or need to be launched from jail. If Biden selected to take the lawmakers’ recommendation, he may exchange the dying sentences with sentences of life in jail.

The three-page letter included co-signers Democratic Reps. Karen Bass of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ritchie Torres of New York.

It is the second letter Pressley has despatched to Biden on the subject, pushing him to behave rapidly to finish the federal dying penalty. Her first letter, on December 15, got here 5 days after the execution of Brandon Bernard, telling Biden that “with a stroke of a pen, you can stop all federal executions.”
Pressley proposed laws to remove capital punishment in July 2019, when then-Attorney General William Barr introduced restarting federal executions. In the time since that invoice was launched, 13 males and a lady have been executed by the federal authorities, all within the final months of the Trump administration because the coronavirus pandemic raged.

“Congress is right: President Biden must go further than just not carrying out executions and should immediately commute all federal death sentences. When the Supreme Court, without any explanation, vacates lower court stays to allow the execution of a woman whose mental illness leaves her with no understanding of why she is being executed, we know the federal death penalty system is broken beyond repair,” mentioned Kelley Henry, lawyer for Lisa Montgomery, who grew to become the primary lady federally executed in almost 70 years on January 12.

Biden has beforehand mentioned that ending the federal dying penalty is on his listing of plans for prison justice, however he has but to deal with the subject since he took workplace.

When requested on Wednesday whether or not there can be a moratorium on the federal dying penalty, White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned: “The President, as you know, has stated his opposition to the death penalty in the past. He remains — that remains his view. I don’t have anything more for you in terms of future actions or mechanisms, though.”

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