Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced a bill Thursday that would abolish the death penalty after the Justice Department ordered federal capital punishment to be reinstated for the first time in nearly two decades.
The proposed legislation would “prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for any violation of Federal law, and for other purposes,” according to an image of the bill that Pressley shared on Twitter.
Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat, brought the bill to the House on the same day that Attorney General William Barr directed the Justice Department to resume using the death penalty and the Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of five inmates after adopting an updated execution protocol.
After 16 years without an execution, Barr on Thursday ordered the executions of “five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society — children and the elderly” in December and January, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
The move represents a dramatic reversal after more than a decade-long hiatus in the federal use of capital punishment, as President Donald Trump has taken on the issue and called to “bring back the death penalty.” The death penalty is legal in 29 states and the federal government, though there have been no federal executions since 2003 and the number of people facing state executions has been on the decline.
Pressley slammed the move by the DOJ on Twitter.
“The death penalty has no place in a just society,” Pressley tweeted along with images of the bill on Thursday.
The bill would also require that any person sentenced to death before its passage be resentenced.
Among the bill’s 12 co-sponsors are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who, with Pressley, are often referred to as “The Squad.” Newly independent Michigan Rep. Justin Amash also co-sponsored the bill.