Democratic Presidential Candidates Defend Murderers, Child Rapists From Death Penalty

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 26, 2019Politicsshare
Democratic Presidential Candidates Defend Murderers, Child Rapists From Death Penalty
Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former tech executive Andrew Yang, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) take part in the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida on June 27, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Most of the top Democratic presidential candidates came out against the death penalty after the Trump administration announced it would be executing five murderers, some of whom also raped children.

Attorney General William Barr announced on July 25 that the federal government would resume capital punishment after a lapse of nearly 20 years, saying: “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.”

He noted that the five men the administration seeks to execute were convicted by a jury.

The men were named as Daniel Lewis Lee, who killed a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl, by wrapping their heads with plastic bags, sealing the bags, and throwing them into a body of water; Lezmond Mitchell, who killed a 63-year-old grandmother and her 8-year-old granddaughter; Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and killed a 16-year-old girl and killed an 80-year-old woman; Alfred Bourgeois, who tortured, sexually molested, and killed his 2-year-old daughter; and Dustin Lee Honken, who shot and killed five people, including two girls under the age of 11.

NTD Photo
Danny Lee waits for his arraignment hearing on Oct. 31, 1997. (Dan Pierce/The Courier via AP, File)

Despite the brutality of the crimes and the fact the men have, according to the Department of Justice, “exhausted their appellate and post-conviction remedies,” top Democrats said they oppose resuming executions.

Frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter: “Since 1973, over 160 individuals in this country have been sentenced to death and were later exonerated. Because we can’t ensure that we get these cases right every time, we must eliminate the death penalty.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), typically in the top five in polls, also said she opposed executing the convicted murders.

“Let me be clear: capital punishment is immoral and deeply flawed. Too many innocent people have been put to death. We need a national moratorium on the death penalty, not a resurrection,” she said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another top contender for the Democratic nomination, echoed Harris and Biden.

“Our criminal justice system has a long history of mistakes when it comes to capital punishment—especially when it comes to Black and Brown people. We cannot let a broken system decide the fate of incarcerated Americans. I oppose the death penalty,” she said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an open socialist, also said he opposes capital punishment.

“There’s enough violence in the world. The government shouldn’t add to it. When I am president, we will abolish the death penalty,” he said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in a statement: “I have opposed the death penalty from back in my time as a prosecutor. It does not reduce crime, it is costly and it is discriminatory. A life sentence compared to a death penalty depends on where you live, who your lawyer is, and the color of your skin. That’s not right.”

Billionaire Tom Steyer, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), former Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Obama administration Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro also voiced their opposition to the move.

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