‘Squad’ Member Announces Bill to End Federal Death Penalty After DOJ Said It Would Resume Executions

By Zachary Stieber

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) said she was introducing a bill to end the federal death penalty after the administration of President Donald Trump announced plans to reinstate it, with the first execution scheduled on Dec. 9.

Pressley, a member of the so-called “Squad,” said that “the death penalty has no place in a just society.”

The bill states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person may be sentenced to death or put to death on or after the date of enactment of this Act.”

The bill would act retroactively and cancel any death penalty sentences. All inmates on death row would be resentenced if the bill passed.

Pressley called the reinstatement of the death penalty “racist, vile policy.”

According to CBS, her bill has support from the three other “Squad” members—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich)—along with eight other Democrats and former Republican Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich).

Ocasio-Cortez shared Pressley’s statement on Twitter and Omar said in a statement: “The death penalty is a heinous, totalitarian practice often used against innocent people. It is the very definition of ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ It has no place in 21st century America, or anywhere else in the world.”

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that the federal government would resume capital punishment after a lapse of nearly two decades.

Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he floats the idea of using the death penalty against drug dealers during his remarks on the opioid crisis, at Manchester Community College in Manchester, New Hampshire on March 19, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

“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,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

“Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding. The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

Five inmates’ executions have been scheduled. All are murderers and several raped and killed children.

Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist, killed a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl.

“After robbing and shooting the victims with a stun gun, Lee covered their heads with plastic bags, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighed down each victim with rocks, and threw the family of three into the Illinois bayou,” the department stated.

Guard towers and razor wire ring the compound at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., on March 17, 2003, the site of the last federal execution. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Lee’s execution is first. It’s scheduled for Dec. 9.

Lezmond Mitchell, who is slated to be executed on Dec. 11, was convicted of killing a 63-year-old grandmother and her 9-year-old grandmother.

Wesley Ira Purkey “violently raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl, and then dismembered, burned, and dumped the young girl’s body in a septic pond. He also was convicted in state court for using a claw hammer to bludgeon to death an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio and walked with a cane,” the department stated. He is scheduled to be executed on December 13.

Alfred Bourgeois, who was convicted of torturing, sexually molesting, and beating his 2-year-old daughter to death, and Dustin Lee Honken, who shot and killed five people, including a 10-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl, are scheduled to be executed in January 2020.