President Biden must know we are watching, just as we were watching President Trump, on behalf of history, justice, and compassion. We demand that President Biden halt and suspend all federal death penalty executions. Only he can reverse what the previous Administration set in motion.
35 Legislators led by Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush are urging President Biden to commute the sentence of death row inmates, in a recent letter they highlight their 'grave concerns regarding the death penalty', which they branded 'cruel and heinous.' They urge Biden 'to take swift, decisive action' to commute the sentences of the people on federal death row, calling it a 'crucial first step in remedying this grave injustice'. We agree!
At a time in which the U.S. as a whole and individual states and counties have continued their long-term movement away from the death penalty, the federal government’s current efforts towards an execution spree has established it as an outlier jurisdiction out of step with the practices of the nation as a whole. The federal government has already carried out more executions in 2020 than in any other year since capital punishment resumed in the U.S. in the 1970s.
We need to forgive and love, both in fidelity to our principles and for our own well-being. The 2005 "Statement of Conscience: Criminal Justice and Prison Reform" asserts "it is highly likely that we have executed innocent people and will do so again in the future unless we abolish the death penalty." Further, it identifies the abolition of the death penalty as part of the call to action for UUs under its “advocacy goals.”
In discussing COVID 19, a November Brennan Center For Justice piece, Mass Incarceration Has Been a Driving Force of Economic Inequality, reports:
“We know that people who have been convicted of a crime or imprisoned are more likely to face poverty and other serious challenges.” Later, “These severe consequences are inextricably bound up with the nation’s 400-year history of racial injustice. Black and Latino men and women make up more than half of all Americans who have been to prison.”
UUs know that economic justice is linked to the challenges of racial injustice in our country, that incarceration and criminal justice policies are likewise connected. UUSJ believes the application of the death penalty is prone to errors and is biased by factors such as race, economic status, the quality of legal representation, and the location where the crime was committed. Its application is deeply flawed and can be irreversibly wrong.
UUSJ has been the leader for a national UU advocacy movement in Washington, DC., and will continue our efforts, we act from: