17:08 GMT20 January 2021
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    In July, the administration of US President Donald Trump, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed the practice of capital punishment, which was halted at the federal level for almost two decades. Since July, a record number of people have been executed by lethal injection, with more scheduled for the next months.

    A group of forty current US members of Congress has sent a letter to president-elect Joe Biden, urging him to immediately halt federal executions once he is inaugurated in January 2021, CNN reported on Tuesday.

    Led by Democratic Representative Ayanna Pressley, the 40 returning legislators, along with three who were recently elected, argued that in the past six months since the capital punishment was resumed by the Trump administration in July, more people have been executed “than the total number executed over the previous six decades”.

    “The current administration has weaponized capital punishment with callous disregard for human life,” Pressley said in the letter to the president-elect. “With a stroke of your pen, you can stop all federal executions, prohibit United States Attorneys from seeking the death penalty, dismantle death row at FCC Terre Haute, and call for the resentencing of people who are currently sentenced to death.”

    The lawmaker added that “each of these elements are critical to help prevent greater harm and further loss of life”.

    President-elect Biden has promised, as part of his justice system reform plan, to “work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivise states to follow the federal government’s example”. He suggests that those sentenced to death “should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole”.

    In July, Incumbent President Trump’s administration restarted the practice of federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. Seven executions have taken place under the Trump administration, making this the most active year for such executions by the federal government on record. Capital punishment is outlawed in 22 US states.


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