Congressmen asked the Department of Justice to ban the death penalty

Congressmen asked the Department of Justice to ban the death penalty

Hispanic Congressman Adriano Espaillat.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A group of Democratic congressmen on Monday asked the Justice Department to put an end to capital punishment in the country and to prohibit its lawyers from requesting that punishment, which they say they continue to do despite the moratorium on federal executions, decreed by the President’s Administration Joe biden last July 1.

The representatives Adriano Espaillat, Ayanna Pressley, Jerrold Nadler and Cori Bush They made the claim in a letter sent today to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

“It’s simple: the death penalty is unjust, immoral and racist, and we have a moral obligation to abolish it”Espaillat said in a joint statement.

Added that “After President Donald Trump‘s unprecedented murder spree in which he executed 13 Americans, more executions than in the last seven decades, it is time for the death penalty to become part of American history.” .

In announcing the moratorium, the Biden administration noted that executions have a “disproportionate impact on people of color.”

The Democratic president has publicly maintained a position of opposition to the death penalty.

“We are writing to ask you to take the necessary action to end the injustice of the federal death penalty.”Lawmakers point out to Garland in their letter.

“We commend the recent decision to impose a moratorium on executions. This is a crucial first step in ending the death penalty once and for all, but this action alone is insufficient. “, they argued to ask that he order prosecutors not to request the maximum penalty in federal courts.

According to the congressmen, capital punishment “is a profoundly imperfect and inhumane practice that the Department of Justice can and must discontinue,” and they recalled “its known deficiencies, including arbitrariness in its application and the disproportionate impact on people of color” that it has been extensively documented.

“Despite these realities, the death penalty continues to be imposed in an arbitrary and capricious way,” the congressmen also indicated Garland.

They also stressed that the rate of innocent people sentenced to death is “alarming”. They cited a study in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that indicated that 1 in 25 individuals sentenced were innocent, “a conservative estimate according to the study authors,” they noted.

“In 2020 six individuals sentenced to death were exonerated and one individual has been exonerated so far this year, increasing the total of death row exonerations to 185.”, the representatives also argued.

According to a report by the Center for Information on the Death Penalty, those 185 wrongful convictions have occurred in 29 states and 118 counties.

Florida has had the most exemptions, with 30 since 1973, followed by Illinois with 21 and Texas with 16.

Cook County, Illinois, leads the counties with the most exemptions, with 15 since 1973, followed by Cuyahoga (Ohio) and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), with six each.

Maricopa County, Arizona, and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma had five each, according to the Center’s February report this year.

“We have seen how death sentences have been unfairly imposed, racially discriminatory and executions cruelly administered”said Congressman Nadler.

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