LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County George Gascón is again speaking out against the death penalty, which he has repeatedly said he disagrees with “on moral and practical grounds.”
Gascón is among the more than 100 attorneys, judges, and criminal justice advocates who on Friday signed a letter calling on President Joe Biden to commute the sentences of all federal death row inmates.READ MORE: Recovering COVID Patients Face Massive Medical Bills After Hospitalization
The letter’s author, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, stated the following in the letter:
We write to you as attorneys, judges, advocates, and Americans, urging you to begin your administration with an act of mercy that would carry our nation closer toward justice: we ask that you immediately commute the sentences of all those on federal death row.
In the last six months, we bore witness to the execution of thirteen people — more Americans put to death in those months than in the last six decades of this nation’s history. These thirteen deaths stand as an affront to the very legal system we operate in every day.
President Obama halted federal executions, but did not commute the sentences of all those on federal death row, leaving the door open for the Trump administration to pursue a death spree that hasn’t been seen in well over a century. The very existence of death row leaves many susceptible to the machinery of death.
A death sentence is both flawed and irrevocable. It is an instrument of racial bias, disproportionately taking the lives of Black and brown people. Its finality demands that stronger action be taken to protect the integrity of both American morality and the law. By not granting clemency and commuting sentences, the lives of 49 Americans on death row are left vulnerable to political tides and heady partisanship.; These 49 people can be spared with no loss of accountability — if anything, the credibility of our justice system will be strengthened by removing the most barbaric vestiges of our nation’s history.
President Biden, we are asking only that you take action to shore up the vision of our justice system we have trained to uphold, and to which so many have dedicated their lives. We made an oath to the U.S. Constitution with the abiding hope that justice and ethics would prevail in American courts. America must no longer sanction violence against her own people. We ask you to take that step towards justice for our system, and our nation.
Along with Gascón, other Southern California officials in support of the request include Los Angeles County Public Defender Ricardo D. Garcia, Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender Erika Anzoategui, Riverside County Public Defender Steven L. Harmon, San Diego County Public Defender Randy Mize.READ MORE: 2 Killed In Rowland Heights Shooting, Suspect At Large
Gascón’s website states that among his reasons for wanting to abolish the death penalty are views that the death penalty is a failed and costly policy that does not deter crime and that it is fatally flawed, racially biased and risks executing innocent people.
Gascón tweeted on Wednesday that it is “past time” to abolish the death penalty.
Today, the justice reform movement gains an ally in White House.
Biden’s promise to confront mass incarceration fills me with hope. It's past time to reform our bail system, decriminalize marijuana, abolish the death penalty & so so much more. #InaugurationDay
— George Gascón (@GeorgeGascon) January 20, 2021
Following his victory in the D.A. race over former L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Gascón issued a series of directives, including one that said that “a sentence of death is never an appropriate resolution in any case.”
Gascón has faced criticism from some family members of victims over the directives, with some supporting a planned effort to try to dismiss him from office.MORE NEWS: LAPD Motorcycle Officer Taken To Hospital After Crash
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