The executions resumed in July 2020.
At 8:07 a.m. on July 14, the federal government executed Daniel Lewis Lee.
At 8:19 a.m. on July 16, the federal government executed Wesley Ira Purkey.
At 4:36 p.m. on July 17, the federal government executed Dustin Lee Honken.
At 6:29 p.m. on August 26, the federal government executed Lezmond Charles Mitchell.
At 4:32 p.m. on August 28, the federal government executed Keith Dwayne Nelson.
At 9:06 p.m. on September 22, the federal government executed William Emmett LeCroy Jr.
At 6:46 p.m. on September 24, the federal government executed Christopher Andre Vialva.
At 11:47 p.m. on November 19, the federal government executed Orlando Cordia Hall.
At 9:27 p.m. on December 10, the federal government executed Brandon Bernard.
At 8:21 p.m. on December 11, the federal government executed Alfred Bourgeois.
At 1:31 a.m. on January 13, the federal government executed Lisa Montgomery.
At 11:34 p.m. on January 14, the federal government executed Cory Johnson.
Tonight, on January 15, the federal government is scheduled to execute Dustin John Higgs.
If the Trump administration is successful in carrying out this last execution, it will have conducted more federal executions in the final months of the president’s term than in the previous 67 years combined.
I believe that the death penalty is and has always been unethical, but the context of these executions has magnified its problems. The killings continued unabated even after Trump lost an election to a man who has committed to ending the death penalty on the federal level. “Because we cannot ensure we get death penalty cases right every time,” the president-elect’s campaign explained, “Biden will work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example. These individuals should instead serve life sentences without probation or parole.”
Read: A brief history of American executions
Biden will have the power to commute death sentences, and to declare a moratorium on executions while the legislation is pending. Whether people on death row live or die is likely to depend not on the nature of their crime, but simply on whether their execution happens to be scheduled for before or after Biden acts.
I think of my own trip to Angola’s death row, and the men I saw there. I think of what it means to have no control over when or if you will die at the hands of your government. To wait for years, for decades, not knowing when you will get the call from your attorney, but always fearing that the call will come. I think of those on death row who watch as the people with whom they’ve shared a space are put in a van and brought to the place where they will be killed. I think about what they will feel if the federal death penalty is ended, knowing that if the presidential election had gone a different way, they likely would have ridden in that van as well.