Incoming Democratic Rep. Cori Bush pens op-ed calling for Biden to help end death penalty
Rep.-elect Cori Bush (D-Mo.) calls on President-elect Joe Biden in a new op-ed to help end federal executions in the U.S. by granting clemency to all federal death row inmates.
“Fifty-two. That’s how many people await execution — people who are being legally tortured by a federal government and a broken criminal-legal system that shouldn’t have the power to force death on any human being,” Bush wrote in the opinion piece published Monday by Time magazine. “There is no place for the death penalty in a just, humane society.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Under the Constitution, Presidents have the extraordinary power to shorten sentences and erase convictions altogether. It’s this same authority that Joe Biden should use when he becomes President on January 20. With the stroke of a pen, he can grant clemency to all who are on federal death row, reducing their sentences or pardoning them altogether,” she continued.
Bush cited the federal execution of Brandon Bernard last week, despite a nationwide outcry and last-minute efforts to have his death sentence halted.
Bernard was a teenager when he was convicted and sentenced for 1999 double murder in Texas.
“Joe Biden cannot leave the lives of those on death row in the hands of future presidents. If he truly opposes the death penalty, he must do everything in his power to stop it for good. Granting clemency to all on federal death row is his most effective tool,” Bush wrote in the Monday op-ed.
Bush, who will be sworn in to represent Missouri’s First congressional district in January, noted that Black people make up a disproportionate percentage of individuals on death row. She also cited a 2014 National Academy of Sciences study that estimated that one in 25 people on death row in innocent.
“Ending the death penalty is about justice. It’s about mercy. It’s about putting a stop to this nation’s dark history of lynching and slavery. It’s about making it clear that our government should not have the power to end a life,” she wrote.
The Department of Justice announced last year that it would resume capital punishment for the first time in nearly two decades. Twenty-eight states also retain the death penalty.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has also introduced legislation to ban the death penalty at the federal level.