January 12, 2021

Kaine, Colleagues Announce Bicameral Bill to End Federal Death Penalty

Federal Executions Set to Be Carried Out by Trump Administration This Week

Bill Text (PDF) | One-Pager (PDF) 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) in announcing the reintroduction of the Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2021, bicameral legislation to prohibit the use of the death penalty at the federal level and require re-sentencing of those currently on death row.

“I have long been morally opposed to the death penalty and believe murder of any sort is wrong,” Kaine said. “Capital punishment in the United States is disproportionally applied to people of color. We cannot continue to make claims for a more perfect union while condoning outdated, inhumane, and unjust practices. As a former civil rights lawyer, I am proud to reintroduce this bill to eliminate the use of capital punishment at the federal level once and for all.”

The Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2021 would prohibit the imposition of the death penalty as punishment for any violation of federal law and would require the re-sentencing of those previously sentenced to death row. The legislation was originally introduced by Senator Kaine and colleagues in July 2019, following the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that it would resume the use of the death penalty. 

The Trump Administration has executed 10 Americans since resuming federal executions for the first time in 17 years on July 14, 2020. The United States stands alone among its peers in executing its own citizens, a barbaric punishment that denies the dignity and humanity of all people and is disproportionately applied to people who are Black, Latinx, or poor. For example, Black people make up less than 13 percent of the nation’s population while accounting for more than 42 percent of those on death row. A nationwide study found that at least 1 in 25 people sentenced to death are innocent, while research has shown that capital punishment does not deter crime. 

The legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The Senate version of this bill will be introduced when the Senate reconvenes later this month. Representative Pressley led 63 of her House colleagues in introducing a companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The Federal Death Penalty Prohibition Act of 2021 is endorsed by 240 organizations. To view the full list, click here.

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