Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Pa. Rep. Dwight Evans joins call for Biden to commute federal death sentences | Tuesday Morning Coffee

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District, is among nearly three-dozen members of Congress who have called on President Joe Biden to commute the sentences of every federal death row prisoner, putting an end to the assembly line of executions imposed during the waning days of the Trump administration.

“As members of Congress, we stand ready to work with you on your commitment to rebuilding the dignity of America,” U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Cori Bush, D-Mo., wrote to Biden. “We believe that rebuilding the dignity of America requires that we recommit ourselves to the tradition of due process, mercy, and judicial clemency when it comes to matters related to the criminal legal system. For this reason, we urge you to immediately commute the sentences of all those on death row.”

All told, 35 members of Congress signed the Jan. 22 letter that Pressley and Bush sent to Biden.

In a tweet, Evans said he was “was proud to sign” the letter.

“As his presidency was ending, [ex-President Donald] Trump abused his power yet again to have an execution spree while pardoning the corrupt and the cronies,” Evans wrote. “We have to do better.”

The federal government has executed 13 people since July, after it lifted a 17-year-old hiatus on executions imposed by former President Barack Obama, according to The Appeal, a criminal justice news website.

The heightened pace of federal executions comes even as other states have slowed or abandoned executions entirely.

Nationwide, 17 people were executed in 2020, down from 22 in 2019, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks executions across the country.

And just five states – Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas – performed executions this year. And only one, Texas, conducted more than one. The total number of executions was the lowest since 1991 and the lowest number of executions performed at the state level since 1983, the report found

Evans’ home state of Pennsylvania has not carried out an execution since 1999. In 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf imposed a moratorium on executions that remains in place to this day.

State Rep. Chris Rabb, a progressive Democrat from Philadelphia, has said he plans to reintroduce a death penalty abolition bill that failed to gain a vote in last year’s legislative session.