Anti-death penalty supporters speak out ahead of upcoming scheduled executions

Federal Executions

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – With two executions scheduled this week, those against the death penalty are continuing to voice their opposition. This includes an U.S. Senator from Illinois and local groups in Vigo County.

On Monday, it was reported that the federal government is planning to carry out five executions through the middle of January, with two scheduled as soon as the end of this week.

Opposition to the death penalty say the speed that these executions are happening is troubling.

“They are seemingly increasing the pace. It’s really an abomination, it feels like a power grab,” said sister Barbara Battista, Sisters of Providence.

Throughout this week, anti-death penalty groups are hosting a virtual conference on the issue. Battista says one of several goals is to open more eyes as to what is happening at the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary.

“We want to reach out and raise awareness because I believe, we believe, if more persons were aware of what this government is doing in our name, we would be out in the streets,” Battista said.

Local groups aren’t the only ones voicing concerns.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) first changed his stance on the death penalty back in 2011.

“The overwhelming evidence of mistakes that were made, people who were mistakenly executed, accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Prosecuted, convicted, and killed by the state, I just thought that was unacceptable,” Durbin said.

Durbin also mentions disparities of death sentences given to people of color and the poor. The senator is now calling for the death penalty to be put to an end.

“Too often we were wrong, even our jury system. Let’s not err on the side of execution. Let’s err on the side of lifetime in prison,” Durbin said.

In 2019, Senator Durbin did introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty nationwide. When asked if he thinks it could gain momentum in the future, Durbin says at this point he is unsure.

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