In the final days of his term, President Donald Trump called for a series of federal executions, before Joe Biden is sworn in january 20. From the BBC website, Wednesday (12/09/2020) there are 5 executions that began this week. The inmates were Alfred Bourgeois (56 years old) and Brandon Bernard (40 years old). Both will be sentenced to death in Terre Haute prison, Indiana. From BBC quotes, Bernard will be executed on 10 December and Bourgeois on 11 December.
The executions will be followed by Lisa Montgomery on January 12, Cory Johnson on January 14, and Dustin John Higgs on January 15. Many critics say the move is worrisome, as it happened weeks before Biden took office. It is known that Biden has different policies regarding the death penalty.
He sought to stop the death penalty, “It’s completely outside the norm, in a pretty extreme way.” Said the director of research at the non-partisan Death Penalty Information Center, Ngozi Ndulue.
Meanwhile Attorney-General William Barr said the Justice Department was only enforcing existing laws. In July 2019, Barr also announced the scheduled executions of five death row inmates, regardless of public opinion and applicable practices.
“Congress expressly passed the death penalty,” the country’s top legal official said.
“The Department of Justice upholds the supremacy of the law, and we owe it to the victims and their families to continue the punishment handed down by our justice system,” he added.
Select inmates have been convicted of murder or rape of children and the elderly, Barr said. However, it drew harsh criticism from Democrats and human rights groups.
Since the federal death penalty was re-enactment in 1988 by the U.S. Supreme Court, executions have remained rare. Before President Donald Trump took office, there were only three federal executions carried out during that period. Everything was done under President George W Bush’s administration.
The inmate who received the execution was Timothy McVeigh who carried out the bombing at the Oklahoma City federal building. Since 2003, there have been no more federal executions. If the executions of Brandon Bernard and Alfred Bourgeois during Donald Trump’s administration go as scheduled, 10 inmates will be executed by 2020. This makes a year unmatched in modern history.
“We had to go back in 1896 to find 1 year with 10 or more executions,” Ndulue said.
Donald Trump’s administration has also opted for federal executions during the political transition, the first in more than a century. Typically, an incumbent president will submit to the president-elect, this is to allow his successor’s president to determine his direction.