To great consternation from Democrats, President Donald Trump’s administration has resumed executions for the most heinous murderers on federal death row following a lengthy hiatus dating back to 2003.
A number of Democrats recently urged Attorney General Bill Barr to refrain from conducting any more executions, under the assumption that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would halt federal executions upon assuming the presidency, but Barr has pressed forward and scheduled several more executions to take place over the coming months, the Washington Examiner reported.
Democrats want to end death penalty
On Nov. 13, a number of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to the attorney general that called on him to end the “grave injustice” of the death penalty during his remaining time in office.
“We urge you to suspend all federal executions so the incoming Biden-Harris administration can evaluate and determine the future use of the death penalty by the federal government. The failure to do so will cause irrevocable injustice,” the group of Democrats wrote.
They decried the federal executions that Barr had already overseen and insisted that the death penalty was racist due to it being “disproportionately imposed” on minorities convicted of murder. Confident that a Biden administration would end the death penalty altogether, they added, “While you will remain in office for a few more weeks, going forward with executions in the weeks before the new administration takes office would be a grave injustice.”
Three more executions scheduled
The Justice Department announced Friday, just one week after that letter, that Barr had instructed three more federal death row inmates be scheduled for execution within the next two months.
The first is Alfred Bourgeois, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2004 for having brutally “abused, tortured, and beat to death” his 2-year-old daughter. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Dec. 11.
Next is Cory Johnson, a drug trafficker who in 1992 murdered seven individuals he believed were rivals or had slighted him. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Jan. 14.
Also on the list is Dustin Higgs, who in 1996 kidnapped and murdered, with help from a friend, three women he had offered a ride home to after one of those women had rejected his advances. He is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 15.
Other executions already set
The Examiner noted that the announcement of those scheduled executions came on the heels of the Nov. 19 execution of Orlando Hall, a drug dealer convicted in 1996 for the kidnapping, raping, bludgeoning, and burning alive of a 16-year-old victim.
A DOJ release on Oct. 16 also set execution dates of Dec. 8 and 10, respectively, for Lisa Montgomery, who had strangled a pregnant woman and cut her baby out of her stomach in 2004, and Brandon Bernard, who in 1999 with the help of friends, kidnapped two youth ministers, locked them in a car trunk, shot them both in the head, then burned the vehicle with them still in it.
“The American people, acting through Congress and Presidents of both political parties, have long instructed that defendants convicted of the most heinous crimes should be subject to a sentence of death,” Barr said in 2019 when he resumed scheduling federal execution, according to the Examiner. “We owe it to the victims of these horrific crimes, and to the families left behind, to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”