Democrat Presidential Hopefuls Rush to Oppose Federal Death Penalty Revival

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

After the Trump administration announced Thursday that it would resume applying the death penalty at the federal level, 2020 Democrat presidential hopefuls rushed to voice their opposition.

Of all the 2020 candidates that voiced their concern with the Trump administration’s decision to bring back the practice at a federal level, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) had the most to say.

Harris said:

Today is a sad day for the United States. The administration’s decision to resume the death penalty is both misguided and immoral. As a career law enforcement official, I have long opposed the death penalty because it is discriminatory, irreversible, ineffective, and a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

Harris insisted the money used to follow through with capital punishment sentences be “invested in schools, health care, and restorative justice programs.”

Harris went on to add that the death penalty “will not make our country safer.”

“There must be swift and serious consequences for those who murder another human being, but the death penalty will not make our country safer,” Harris added. “The administration must reverse course immediately.”

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) remarks echoed Harris’s in claiming the death penalty is “discriminatory.”

“I have opposed the death penalty from back in my time as a prosecutor,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “It does not reduce crime, it is costly, and it is discriminatory. A life sentence depends on where you live, who your lawyer is and the color of your skin. That’s not right.”

“When the penalty of life without parole is available for heinous murderers, we do not need the death penalty,” She added. “I disagree with the President’s decision.”

In a statement released on Twitter, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) claimed the death penalty “targets poor people and minorities” and called for its abolishment.

“Our broken criminal justice system targets poor people and minorities disproportionately with the death penalty, including those who are innocent,” Sanders wrote. “The government should not be in the business of killing people. We must abolish capital punishment.”

Upon hearing the news Thursday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also voiced her concern with the administration’s decision to revive the death penalty at the federal level.

“I believe the death penalty is a violation of human rights, a glaring signifier of our broken criminal justice system, and a moral wrong,” Gillibrand wrote in a tweet. “Our government should not be in the business of execution.”

Echoing Sanders, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) stated America should “abolish” the death penalty.

“The death penalty is not justice—it’s an immoral and ineffective form of punishment that has killed innocent people, and is biased against people of color, low-income, and those with mental illness,” Booker said in a tweet.

He added, “We should abolish the death penalty.”

Low-polling New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on the announcement, saying he has “always opposed the death penalty.”

“Our governments have not been able to get to the truth consistently enough to have the right to take a life,” de Blasio said in a tweet. “I’ve always opposed the death penalty and this time is no different.”

De Blasio also insisted the death penalty belongs “in the past.”

“The Trump administration should leave the death penalty in the past where it belongs,” de Blasio added.

In a tweet shared to her account, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) insinuated that the death penalty was the result of a “broken system.”

“Our criminal justice system has a long history of mistakes when it comes to capital punishment—especially when it comes to Black and Brown people,” Warren stated. “We cannot let a broken system decide the fate of incarcerated Americans.

She added, “I oppose the death penalty.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden wrote that “we should eliminate” the death penalty.

“Since 1973, over 160 individuals in this country have been sentenced to death and were later exonerated,” Biden said on Twitter. “Because we can’t ensure that we get these cases right every time, we must eliminate the death penalty.”

In a tweet, Mayor Pete Buttigieg pointed to “race and geography” as two of the main reasons why he opposes the death penalty.

“Justice is not equally distributed in our country,” Buttigieg wrote. “Too often, race and geography determine who lives and who dies. We should be joining the ranks of modern nations and abolishing the death penalty—not expanding its reach.”

Julián Castro, who has long opposed the death penalty, reaffirmed his position in a tweet today after the administration’s announcement.

“As the Attorney General moves ahead with the first federal executions since 2003, I’ll say it again: We should abolish the death penalty,” Castro said. “It is wrong.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee shared his thoughts on Twitter Thursday morning, calling the death penalty “unnecessary” and promising to abolish the practice should he be elected president.

“The death penalty is cruel and unnecessary,” Inslee wrote. “We put an end to it in Washington state, and we’ll abolish it nationwide when I’m president.”

Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke reacted to the news with four simple words, echoing Sanders, Booker, and Castro in calling for the abolishment of the death penalty.

“Abolish the death penalty,” O’Rourke stated in a tweet.

Sharing the news on Twitter, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) claimed the death penalty was “blatantly prejudiced” and “unevenly applied.”

“Our criminal justice system is broken and the death penalty is blatantly prejudiced and unevenly applied,” Ryan said. “We know innocent people have been executed by the state for crimes they didn’t commit.”

He added, “That should never happen in this country.”

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) also echoed his Democrat challengers and said America should “abolish” the death penalty.

“One wrongful execution is one too many,” Moulton wrote in a tweet. “We need to abolish the death penalty.”

After hearing the news, Billionaire Tom Steyer called the decision a “misstep” and directed his attention towards Attorney General William Barr, calling him a “national disgrace”

“Another huge misstep by the Trump Administration,” Steyer stated. “Their leadership on what it means to be an American couldn’t be more misguided. Mr. Barr is a national disgrace.”

Attorney General Barr described the decision in a statement released Thursday.

“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 on Thursday.  “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.”

Follow Kyle on Twitter @RealKyleMorris and Facebook.


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