Durbin, Booker Call for President Trump to Issue a Commutation Reducing the Sentence of Brandon Bernard, Who is Scheduled to be Executed Tomorrow, December 10

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today called on President Donald Trump to issue a commutation reducing the sentence of Brandon Bernard, who is scheduled to be executed tomorrow, December 10. 

Mr. Bernard was sentenced to death in June 2000 as an accomplice to a crime committed when he was just 18 years old.  Five of the jurors who condemned him to death twenty years ago now oppose the imposition of the death penalty in Mr. Bernard’s case, and the federal prosecutor who once defended his death sentence on appeal now opposes his execution as well.  While the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution forbids the execution of individuals who were minors at the time the crime was committed, Mr. Bernard narrowly missed the protection afforded by the decision because he was 18 at the time of the crime.

“The federal government has wrongly set the execution of Brandon Bernard for this Thursday, December 10.  Since he was sentenced to death, new evidence has come to light and a number of deficiencies in his initial defense have been exposed.  We know that the death penalty in the United States is fatally flawed in its imposition and is disproportionately imposed based on race.  Mr. Bernard’s post-conviction attorneys have continued to seek legal relief in the courts and Mr. Bernard should be allowed to keep pursuing available legal avenues to challenge his death sentence.  The President should commute Mr. Bernard’s sentence.”