U.S. civil rights teams name on Biden to finish executions

FILE PHOTO: An activist against the death penalty protests outside of the U.S. prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S., Jan. 15, 2021 during a snow storm. REUTERS / Bryan Woolston

(Reuters) – A group of prominent civil rights groups called on U.S. President Joe Biden to impose a moratorium on the execution of federal prisoners sentenced to death and to commute the sentences of men held on federal death row in a letter sent Tuesday .

Democrat Biden promised voters last year that he would end the federal death penalty and took office as the country’s first abolitionist president last month.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, and other groups called the punishment “cruel, ineffective, and irreversible” in their letter.

The punishment was resuscitated by Biden’s Republican predecessor Donald Trump last summer after a 17-year hiatus, partly due to increasing difficulty in obtaining medication for lethal injections.

Trump’s government announced a new lethal injection protocol and executed 13 prisoners: 12 men and the only woman to have been on federal death row. The US government had previously only executed three people since the 1960s. Most other countries have abolished the death penalty.

Biden, who recently opposed the death penalty after being an outspoken Senator supporter in the 1990s, has yet to discuss how we will respond to his campaign promise. When asked on Friday, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the president is still against the death penalty, but she has no information about new guidelines to share.

Democratic lawmakers in Congress are putting forward bills to abolish the federal death penalty. They say that it is being used disproportionately against black people and the poor and that the risk of executing a wrongly convicted innocent person is too high.

In their letter, civil rights groups said Biden should dismantle the Justice Department’s execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana. announce a moratorium on execution; commute the sentences of the 49 men who remained on federal death row; and to order Justice Department prosecutors to stop applying for the death penalty.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Adaptation by Matthew Lewis

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