In the wake of California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in California, Sen. Kamala Harris said Thursday in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that if she were elected president in 2020, she would work to see that no federal executions for any crime take place while she is in office. She praised Newsom’s moratorium, calling it “an important day for justice and for the state of California.”
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke also called for a federal moratorium this week. Other Democratic candidates for the presidency—including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders, as well as Mayor Pete Buttigieg—all oppose the death penalty. Two others, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, have themselves placed moratoriums on executions in their states. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to declare whether he will run for president, has a long history of support for the death penalty.
Of the nearly 2,700 people under sentence of death throughout the United States, only 62 now live on federal death row, sentenced for a variety of crimes. The federal government has not executed anyone since 2003, a lengthy period that is a product of litigation. Three prisoners have been held on federal death row for 26 years. Here is a list of federal death row prisoners. And here is a list of federal crimes for which the ultimate punishment may be imposed.
Casey Tolan reports:
Harris has faced questions from both the right and left over her record on the issue. As district attorney of San Francisco, she sparked controversy and infuriated police unions when she refused to seek the death penalty for a defendant who shot and killed a police officer.
But as attorney general, she declined to take a stance on two ballot measures that would have repealed the death penalty in California, unlike Newsom, who supported them.