Attorney General Bill Barr has scheduled several federal executions to take place over the next two months, against the wishes of Democrats.
The Democratic Party no longer supports capital punishment and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, once an outspoken supporter of the death penalty, has vowed to completely eliminate the practice if he was elected to office.
Federal executions resume
There had been a hiatus on the use of the death penalty at the federal level since 2003, but that changed under President Donald Trump and AG Barr, who ordered a resumption of the practice in 2019 and, since that time, has already overseen the executions of at least eight federal death row inmates, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Barr said in a statement in July 2019. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
That announcement also included the scheduling of five executions that took place earlier in 2020. Last week, another murderer who kidnapped, raped, beat, burned, and buried alive a 16-year-old victim was executed in Indiana.
Two more convicted murderers were scheduled in October for execution dates in December.
Democrats demand Barr halt all executions
But Democrats have stood opposed to any executions and Biden, despite his prior support for the practice, has made it clear in a campaign pledge that, if elected president, he “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.”
In line with Biden’s pledge, several Democratic lawmakers recently sent a letter to Barr in which they urged him 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.”
“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,” the presumptive Democrats added.
Barr moves forward
The plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Just one week after the letter had been sent, Barr announced three more federal executions that will take place within the next two months.
One is a man who abused and beat his young two-year-old daughter to death, another is a drug trafficker that went on a killing spree and murdered seven perceived rivals, and the third is a man who kidnapped and murdered three women after one of them had rejected his romantic advances.
All were convicted and sentenced more than 15 years ago and have exhausted all avenues of appeal. Given the heinous nature of their particular crimes, all have been deemed worthy of being executed by lethal injection.