Tell Congress: Abolish the Federal Death Penalty

The United States Congress

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Two more federal executions are scheduled for Sept 22 and 24 as part of the Trump "Law and Order" reelection campaign. This follows 5 federal executions in July and August, making president Trump the most-executing president since the 1950's.

On August 26, 2020, the U.S. Government executed Lezmond Mitchell, the only American Indian on the federal Death Row. The U.S. government found a way to circumvent tribal agreements in order to do so, adding one more reason for Congress to end federal executions immediately.

Now comes renewed evidence of the absolutely undeniable systemic racism pervasive in the U.S. capital punishment system at the state and federal levels.

Executions do not keep society any safer from dangerous offenders than incarceration. We can do much better for the families of murder victims than the hollow promise of a possible execution decades in the future.

We are urging Congress to abolish the federal death penalty.

Background:

[Case information and links for individual prisoners with pending execution dates is below.]

In July, 2019 the Trump Administration announced its intent to resume federal executions, setting three execution dates in December 2019 and two more in January, 2020. Appeals postponed those executions for months, however three federal death row prisoners were executed on July 14, July 16, and July 17, 2020. These problematic executions were the first to be conducted by the federal government since 2003. Two more were killed on August 26 & 28, 2020. Another two federal executions are scheduled for September 22 and 24, 2020, and more dates could be announced at any time.

Additionally, responding to a rash of mass shootings, the Trump Administration announced in 2019 that it will push for expedited executions for mass shooters who happen to survive their terror attacks. The president has also called for speeding up executions in cases of drug kingpins and for the murder of law enforcement officers. Donald Trump has long used the death penalty as a political tool.

Many problems exist with federal, military and state death penalty laws. These issues are explored in great detail, here. Death Penalty Action believes the death penalty is not necessary to be safe from dangerous offenders or to hold them accountable. In an era where support for capital punishment is waning and states are abolishing the punishment, calling for more executions is political rhetoric intended to win support from particular voting blocks.

Most alarming, evidence came to light after the July 14, 2020 execution of Daniel Lee that the campaign to reelect Donald Trump has guided the strategy and timing of this spate of federal executions. Read about this in the Terre Haute Tribune Star report. Further evidence is currently being developed.

Action Steps:

Please join us in asking congress to take the following steps:

  • Speak out against the upcoming federal executions on September 22 & 24, 2020;
  • Address pervasive and systemic racism in the criminal legal system by ending the federal death penalty;
  • Remove the power of the president to use executions for his own political purposes by passing H.R. 4052, legislation to end the federal death penalty and prohibit any further federal executions;
  • Investigate the Trump reelection campaign's scripting of federal executions and address any ethics violations or violations of the law, if found;
  • Investigate the conduct of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons in light of troubling facts raising questions about the legality and constitutionality of the executions conducted on July 14, 16, 2020;
  • Close the legal loophole that allowed the federal government to override the Navajo Nation's stated desire that Lezmond Mitchell not face execution.


Add your name to the petition to tell Congress and send a signal to the administration: The death penalty is not an effective tool to stop crime. Government makes mistakes, the criminal justice system is fraught with disparity and unfairness, prison workers should not be forced to take on the burden of killing defenseless prisoners once let alone at the rapid pace of the current federal execution schedule, and it is a cruel hoax to suggest that executions provide healing to murder victim family members.

NOTE: The information in this background and the asks within the deliverable petition language may be adjusted from time to time to keep them current as to information presented and appropriateness of requests being made. Petition signatures will be regularly submitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, and may also be carried over to the next term of congress or used in support of similar legislation in keeping with the spirit of this petition.


THE NEXT EXECUTIONS:

Besides the use of the federal death penalty being an affront to human rights and criminal justice, there are other factors surrounding each case:

William LeCroy, Jr., scheduled for September 22 - A jury sentenced LeCroy to death in the 2001 carjacking and murder of JoAnn Tiesler of Gilmer County, Georgia. Attorneys for LeCroy argued that the murder took place inside the victim's house, and thus did not fall under the 1994 federal death penalty statute. LeCroy’s death sentence was the second capital sentence obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta since Congress reinstated the death penalty for federal crimes in 1988.

Christopher Vialva, scheduled for September 24 - In June 2000, a federal jury in Waco, Texas convicted Christopher Vialva and Brandon Bernard of carjacking and the murder of an Iowa couple, Todd and Stacie Bagley, visiting central Texas. Both defendants were sentenced to death. Vialva was 19 years old at the time of his arrest, and Bernard was 18. Four younger teenagers also pled guilty to federal charges relating to the crime.

Sponsored by

To: The United States Congress
From: Judy Morris

After a failed attempt in 2019, the Trump Administration resumed federal executions after a 17 year hiatus, on July 14, July 16, and July 17. Two more took place August 26 & 28, and two more federal executions are scheduled on September 22 & 24, 2020.​

Following the July 14th, 2020 execution of Daniel Lee, the campaign to re-elect the president e-mailed it's supporters to tout Donald Trump's toughness and challenge his opponent to justify opposition to capital punishment. The executions in August took place during the week of the Republican National Convention. There can now be no doubt that the timing of this spate of executions is political in motivation. This cannot be allowed and should be investigated.

We are writing to urge you to pass H.R. 4052, legislation to abolish the federal death penalty in the United States. Additionally, please help us urge the Attorney General to withdraw any pending federal execution dates and find ways to encourage the President to commute all federal death sentences to a lesser sentence. (In most cases the only currently available option may be life in prison with no possibility of parole.) Specifically:

* Speak out against the upcoming federal executions on September 22 & 24, 2020;
* Address pervasive and systemic racism in the criminal legal system by ending the federal death penalty;
* Remove the power of the president to use executions for his own political purposes by passing legislation to end the federal death penalty and prohibit any further federal executions;
* Investigate the Trump reelection campaign's scripting of federal executions and address any ethics violations or violations of the law, if found;
* Investigate the conduct of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons in light of troubling facts raising questions about the legality and constitutionality of the executions conducted on July 14, 16, 2020;
* Close the legal loophole that allowed the federal government to override the Navajo Nation's stated desire that Lezmond Mitchell not face execution.

Our nation is strong enough and smart enough that it can hold dangerous offenders accountable and be safe from them without executions. We do that every day in the vast majority of homicide cases. The death penalty is not an effective tool to stop crime. We know that:
* Government makes mistakes;
* The criminal legal system is fraught with disparity and unfairness;
* Prison workers should not be forced to take on the burden of killing defenseless prisoners once, let alone at the rapid pace of the recent federal execution schedule; * It is a cruel hoax to suggest that executions provide healing to murder victim family members. We can and must do better for the families left behind in the wake of violence.

Thank you for your time and attention to this serious matter.