USA - Activists ask Biden to commute all federal death sentences

USA - Biden - Trump

19 June 2024 :

June 16, 2024 - USA. Donald Trump could execute 40 prisoners in second term 'bloodbath,' anti-death penalty campaigners fear----Biden introduced moratorium and has executed no federal prisoners
Campaigners against capital punishment fear Donald Trump would execute dozens of prisoners if re-elected in the 'largest federal civilian execution spree' in U.S. history.
There are currently 40 prisoners on federal death row, which is located at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. None have been put to death during Joe Biden's presidency.
Biden, 81, is the first president to be openly against capital punishment and had vowed in his 2020 campaign to 'pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level.'
However, he instead introduced a moratorium, which Trump could immediately end if he returns to the White House.
'It's highly likely there will be an execution bloodbath if he returns to office.' Robert Dunham, Director of the Death Penalty Policy Project, told
In Trump's final 6 months in office a flurry of 13 federal executions were carried out. They were the 1st since 2003.
It included 3 after the 2020 election - the first time federal prisoners were put to death by an outgoing president since Grover Cleveland in 1889.
A signal of what could happen in a second Trump term is contained in 'Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise,' a lengthy document produced by Project 25, which is involved in planning for a future Trump administration.
In a chapter on the Justice Department it says of the death penalty: 'Providing this punishment without ever enforcing it provides justice neither for the victims’ families nor for the defendant.
'The next conservative Administration should therefore do everything possible to obtain finality for the prisoners currently on federal death row.'
Trump himself has strongly backed execution and has called for those 'caught selling drugs to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts.'
His first term administration executed more federal inmates than any other president since Franklin Roosevelt carried out 16 executions in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Those executed in the final months of Trump's first term included Brandon Bernard, who was put to death for his part in a 1999 killing of a religious couple from Iowa.
Bernard, who was 18 at the time of the killings, was a rare execution of a person who was in his teens when his crime was committed.
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West had appealed to Trump to commute Bernard's sentence to life, citing, among other things, remorse Bernard expressed.
9 days before Trump left office the federal government carried out its first execution of a woman in nearly seven decades.
Lisa Montgomery, 52, was executed by lethal injection after being sentenced to death for strangling an expectant mother in Missouri and cutting the baby from her womb.
Overall, in 2020, the US government carried out more executions in a single year than all states that still conduct executions combined.
Inmates who remain on federal death row include two who were sentenced in 1993.
They also include the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Dunham called on Biden, if he loses the election, to commute all the death sentences to life without parole before he leaves office.
The outgoing President could do that 'with a stroke of a pen.'
He said: 'The proposal that advocates killing everyone on federal death row is so extreme, so lacking in principle and human dignity that it creates a moral imperative for President Biden to prevent it happening if he loses the election.
'Events that presidents do not anticipate often define their presidential legacy. This is one of those events.
'If President Biden loses and does nothing his legacy in significant part will be defined by his role in facilitating the largest federal civilian execution spree in the history of this country. I don't think he wants that to be his legacy.'
The death penalty has not been a major issue in a U.S. presidential race since 1988.
However, it could quickly become a major issue if Trump retakes the White House.
According to Gallup polling support for the death penalty against convicted murderers has fallen from 80 % in 1994 to 53 % last year.
In November Gallup found, for the 1st time, that more Americans believe the death penalty is applied unfairly than fairly - 50 % to 47 %.
The vast majority of condemned inmates are sentenced at a state level. In addition to the federal government the death penalty is legal in 27 states, although in most of those states executions have not been carried out for years.


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