Trump committed to carrying out federal executions before leaving office

The Trump administration has overseen 13 executions and two are set to take place before Joe Biden is sworn in

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President Donald Trump will use the waning days of office to carry out federal executions, including two that are set to take place just days before Joe Biden is sworn in.

Dustin John Higgs, Cory Johnson and Alfred Bourgeois are scheduled to be executed in December and January according to the Department of Justice. In a statement last Friday, Attorney General William Barr stated that these men were sentenced to death for “staggeringly brutal murders, including the murder of a child and, with respect to two inmates, the murder of multiple victims.”

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President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the south lawn of the White House Thursday en route to Bedminster, New Jersey for a roundtable event with supporters and a fundraiser. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NPR reported Tuesday that if the executions proceed, 13 people will have been executed under the Trump administration. These executions would also occur under a lame-duck presidency, the first in more than a century.

“In a normal presidency that followed the traditional norms of civility, you wouldn’t see executions during a transition period,” Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center told the outlet. “The outgoing administration would defer to the incoming administration in matters like this.”

Hannah Riley, a spokeswoman at the Southern Center for Human Rights, declared that these executions were particularly more egregious given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“The death penalty is always unconscionable, but it is especially egregious to carry out executions as hundreds of people are dying of COVID-19 in this country every day.”

The Congressional Black Caucus joined the chorus of those asking for a halt to the executions and cited the pandemic as well. They requested an “immediate stay” from Barr and the DOJ.

First Federal Execution In 17 Years Set For Convicted Murderer In Indiana
A guard tower sits along a security fence at the Federal Correctional Complex where Daniel Lewis Lee is scheduled to be executed on July 13, 2020 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Lee was convicted and sentenced to die for the 1996 killings in Arkansas of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter Sarah. He is scheduled to be the first federal prisoner put to death since 2003. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Spikes in COVID-19 not only endanger the public, they decrease the accessibility of essential services. The ability to effectively see a client, schedule a hearing, or argue a case decreases as our hospitals fill and our leaders are afflicted,” the statement read.

“To preserve the sanctity of all Americans’ constitutional rights, it is imperative that we maintain a climate where men and women who have been sentenced to death have every available legal recourse in the days before their execution. The only way to ensure this is to stay these executions.”

President-elect Biden campaigned with a desire to end the death penalty and to work with Congress in a bid to eliminate it. A spokesperson for his transition team asserted that in response to the Trump DOJ moving forward with these planned executions.

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“The president-elect opposes the death penalty, now and in the future, and as president will work to end its use,” transition spokesman, T.J. Ducklo, told NPR.

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