Eighteen Democrat senators are asking the U.S.Justice Department to convert its temporary moratorium on federal executions to a more permanent ban on the death penalty.
“There are serious concerns about arbitrariness in the application of the death penalty, its disparate impact on people of color, and the alarming number of exonerations in capital cases,” the senators wrote in a letter Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“These concerns justify not only a review of the procedures for carrying out the death penalty, but also support halting its use—including prohibiting federal prosecutors from seeking the death penalty—during the review process,” they added.
The signatories include Senate Democratic Whip Duck Durbin of Illinois, who also is Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, one of the chamber’s longest serving members, and Sen. Jon Ossoff, a new member who hails from Georgia, a state that still imposes the death penalty.
Georgia has executed more than 70 prisoners since the 1970s and has about 40 inmates in death row.
The Trump administration had ended a moratorium on the death penalty and executed 13 inmates. But Garland imposed a new moratorium in June.