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Pressley to introduce bill to end death penalty after DOJ decision

Pressley to introduce bill to end death penalty after DOJ decision
© Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyGOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' Pelosi faces caucus divisions in Biden era Record number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) will introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty after the Department of Justice announced Thursday that it will resume capital punishment for the first time in nearly two decades.

The bill seeks to “prohibit the use of the death penalty for any violation of federal law, and for other purposes.” It also calls for any person sentenced to death prior to law's enactment to be resentenced.

“The death penalty has no place in a just society,” Pressley tweeted, along with an image of the legislation.

Pressley, earlier Thursday, had denounced the Justice Department's decision to resume capital punishment. 

"The same #racist rhetoric coming from the occupant of the @WhiteHouse, who called for the execution of the #Exonerated5, is what led to this racist, vile policy. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now," she tweeted. "The cruelty is the point — this is by design."

Only three federal executions have taken place since 1988, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. All five of the death-row inmates named in Thursday's release were convicted for the murders of children.

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“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMerrick Garland on list to be Biden's attorney general: report DOJ dropping charges against ex-Mexican defense minister DOJ watchdog finds Louisiana inmates with coronavirus were not isolated for a week MORE said in a statement Thursday.  

“Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding. The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

Several states currently have a moratorium on the death penalty or have suspended the practice due to recent past wrongful convictions brought to light by groups such as the Innocence Project, which have secured the release of a number of death-row inmates in recent years. The total number of executions has declined over the last decade, in part, due to concerns that capital punishment disproportionately affects African Americans. 

The death penalty has been abolished in about 70 percent of countries, including many democratic, industrialized nations similar to the U.S.