Sunday, December 27, 2020

Groups Petition Acting U.S. Attorney General Rosen to Rescind Execution Warrants


As Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen takes office today, more than 20,000 citizens delivered a petition urging him to rescind all remaining federal execution warrants. Three federal executions remain scheduled for the week prior to the inauguration of the new president, who opposes the death penalty.

“Acting Attorney General Rosen is one of two individuals in the country with the unilateral power to stop the pending federal executions,” said Abraham Bonowitz, director of Death Penalty Action. “We urge him to take a look at these executions with fresh eyes, in light of the evidence that federal executions are superspreader events for COVID-19.”

The grisly week, if it goes forward, begins on January 12 with the execution of Lisa Montgomery, a woman with severe mental illness and ends on January 15 with Dustin Higgs, a Black man who received a death sentence when the actual killer received a life sentence. January 15 is also Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 's birthday. Corey Johnson, a man with an intellectual disability, is set to be executed on January 14. Johnson and Higgs have recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Death Penalty Action believes the federal execution spree puts prison workers, their families and the surrounding community in Terre Haute at risk for further COVID-19 spread. The same is true for those federal workers traveling from outside the area.

"Being sick while incarcerated is awful, but if a guy on death row has COVID-19, how are they keeping prison workers safe? What about the workers’ families and the Terre Haute community? The very few states that still actually use the death penalty have stopped executions because of the threat of the pandemic to everyone involved, but the Trump Administration has been full speed ahead. They don't care about their own people, let alone the prisoners. Jeffrey Rosen needs to call off any further executions the moment he sits down at his desk today."

Death Penalty Action has experienced exponentially expanded interest in opposition to capital punishment because of the Trump execution spree. Membership in Death Penalty Action has swelled tenfold since December 10th, to more than 260,000. The organization is preparing to support legislative efforts to repeal the federal and military death penalty with the new Congress and the Biden Administration.

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