President Joe Biden holds a face mask as he takes part in a town hall at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 16, 2021.
President Joe Biden is dealing with increasing pressure from civil liberties groups and liberal members of Congress to satisfy his pledge to end the capital punishment.
While total abolition of the death penalty would need an act of Congress, activists state there are immediate steps that Biden can require to roll back the practice, which was restarted at the federal level under previous President Donald Trump. Almost a month into Biden’s term, they are pressing him to act.
” He has the authority to do a lot to limit this punishment and make it much harder for a future administration,” stated Kristina Roth, a supporter at Amnesty International USA. “We believe it is essential throughout this early period of his administration to advise him what authority he has.”
Biden is the very first president to openly oppose the death penalty and has actually repeatedly stated that criminal justice reform is a top concern of his administration.
One of the actions Biden could take unilaterally would be to commute the sentences of the 49 people on federal death row. In a letter sent previously this month, 82 organizations, including many rights groups, pushed Biden to do simply that.
” As a prospect, you campaigned on a platform fixated reinforcing ‘America’s commitment to justice,’ based upon the core beliefs that we need to get rid of racial, income-based, and other disparities, and develop a criminal legal system focused not on cruelty and punishment, however on ‘redemption and rehab,'” the organizations, led by The Management Conference on Civil and Human Rights, composed in the Feb. 9 letter.
” Now, as president, you have the unique capability to start effectuating these policy goals right away by using your executive clemency powers to commute the sentences of the people on federal death row today,” they wrote.
Michael Gwin, a White Home representative, stated in an email on Wednesday that there was “nothing brand-new for us to include at the moment.” Gwin indicated a part of Biden’s project platform, still available online, in which he promised to “work to pass legislation to eliminate the death sentence at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example.”
Roth stated that civil liberties groups and the White House are taken part in “ongoing communication to ensure our calls are being heard.”