Cori Bush calls on Biden to grant all death row prisoners clemency amid Trump’s end-of-term ‘killing spree’

Trump administration resumed executions over the summer

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 15 December 2020 18:11
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Incoming House Democrat Cori Bush is calling on president-elect Joe Biden to offer clemency to all prisoners on death row.

Her comments come as the outgoing Trump administration presses ahead with a spate of federal executions despite a surge of coronavirus cases in prisons.

Writing in a piece published by Time magazine on Monday, Ms Bush, representative-elect for Missouri's 1st congressional district, called on Mr Biden to consider permanently ending the federal government's "legal torture" of inmates when he assumes office.

“There is no place for the death penalty in a just, humane society,” she wrote. “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."

She added: "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.

“If he truly opposes the death penalty, he must do everything in his power to stop it for good”. Ending executions is about "making it clear that our government should not have the power to end a life",.

Ms Bush,  a trained nurse and pastor who was once homeless, referenced Brandon Bernard, a black American who was put to death last week.  

Aged 40, Bernard was the youngest offender to be executed by the federal government in nearly 70 years.

He was sentenced to death for a murder he committed when he was a teenager almost 20 years ago.

The Department of Justice announced last year that it would resume federal capital punishment following an almost two-decades-long hiatus.

Mr Trump earlier this month announced a further five executions, the last of which is scheduled to take place just days before Mr Biden's 20 January inauguration.

If all of those executions go ahead as planned, the total number of prisoners executed in America since July will stand at 13, the Associated Press reported.

The Trump government, which has been keen to highlight its 'pro-life' stance, resumed putting prisoners to death over the summer.

Critics have accused the lame-duck president of embarking on an end-of-term "killing spree" before leaving the White House next year.

A spokesman for Mr Biden said last month that the president-elect “opposes the death penalty now and in the future".

He did not confirm, however, whether Mr Biden would immediately pause executions upon entering the Oval Office. 

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