Democrats unveil legislation to abolish the federal death penalty

Prisoner on Death Rowsource: NPR News
published: 11 January 2021

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, the incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., are unveiling legislation that would seek to end federal capital punishment, putting a focus on the issue as their party prepares to take over complete control of Congress, along with the White House.

The Democratic proposal, shared first with NPR, comes as the party will have unified control of Congress after victories in two Georgia Senate races, a change in fortunes for Democratic legislative priorities. The legislation would end capital punishment at the federal level and require the resentencing of all federal inmates on death row.

“There are three lives that hang in the balance this week alone,” Pressley said, speaking along with Durbin in an exclusive joint interview. “And this is why we reintroduced this bill this week and are urging Congress to act immediately to pass it. State-sanctioned murder is not justice.”

Former Attorney General William Barr announced in July 2019 that the Justice Department would resume federal executions, ending what had been a nearly two-decade hiatus. At the time, Barr and Justice Department officials said they were carrying out the will of judges and juries and providing justice for “staggeringly brutal murders.”

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