Death Penalty

Dems Ask Trump Administration to Stop Executing Inmates Ahead of Biden Transition

The incoming administration opposes the death penalty, but the Justice Department has three more executions planned this year.


Four Democratic lawmakers are trying to convince the Department of Justice to stop executing federal prisoners during the Trump administration's lame-duck period.

The Democratic Party's 2020 platform calls for the elimination of the death penalty. By contrast, the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr brought the federal death penalty back in July, executing the first federal death row inmate in 17 years. Since then, the feds have executed seven inmates (a modern record), and there are three executions still scheduled for before the end of the year. One of the inmates, Orlando Hall, is scheduled for execution this Thursday.

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.), Dick Durbin (D–Ill.), and Cory Booker (D–N.J.), along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D–Mass.), have sent a letter to Barr asking him to suspend these pending executions. The letter notes:

President-Elect Biden's plan for strengthening America's commitment to justice includes the elimination of the federal death penalty and Vice-President-Elect [Kamala] Harris is an original cosponsor of legislation we have introduced to eliminate the federal death penalty.  A record number of Americans voted in favor of President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Harris and they deserve an opportunity to implement their policy agenda without the Trump Administration rushing to take preemptive and irreversible steps.

The four Democratic lawmakers further observe that at least 172 people who had been sentenced to death have subsequently been exonerated.

Last year, not long after Barr announced his plan to restart executions, this same group of lawmakers introduced a bill to both eliminate the federal death penalty and to resentence prisoners currently on death row to life in prison. There are currently 55 federal death row prisoners. While the legislation picked up several Democratic cosponsors in both houses, it never made it out of the Judiciary Committee in either chamber.

Last week, two attorneys representing death row inmate Lisa Montgomery, who is scheduled for execution on Dec. 8, requested a reprieve because they've both contracted COVID-19 while visiting her. They asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for more time to file a clemency petition. District Judge Randolph J. Moss declined to directly intervene immediately but did encourage the Justice Department to consider allowing for an extension given the unusual situation.

The clock is running out for this administration. If the Justice Department manages to carry out the rest of its planned executions this year, it will have put 10 people to death. That's more than any presidential administration since President Harry S. Truman's, and all in a period of just over six months.

The American people generally favor the death penalty for convicted murderers (and all of the people the Justice Department has recently executed have been convicted of particularly brutal murders, often involving children). But opposition to the death penalty has been climbing steadily since the late 1990s. Currently, according to Gallup, 56 percent of Americans still support the death penalty while 42 percent oppose it.

When Biden takes office he should quickly use his commutation powers as president to resentence anybody on death row to life in prison.

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  1. >>The incoming administration opposes the death penalty

    that’s for masses of people overseas, dummy.

    1. Waste of good labor
      – The Harris administration with special guest Joe Biden.

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    3. Bill Clinton executed a man who was effectively retarded just to show how tough he was on crime. It was awful, evil, and disgusting–and it got him elected.

      Biden said in ’98 that he supported that decision. Are you telling us that he’s “evolved”?

      1. That question was aimed at Shackford, not Dillinger.

        1. The Reasonistas are such unbelievable DNC shills.

          1. they are. this place should be 94% more “fuck government” than it is

  2. OK hypothetically would these same democrats be writing to Barr to stop McVeigh’s execution? Do they even know or care that he already was executed years before? You see I suspect as these are politicians their resistance would fluctuate based on who it is and how they could use it for their own benefit.

    Oh well, you elected them, they are on you now.

    1. You can bet that if the Trump transition team four years ago had asked the Obama staff to start executions ahead of time, it would be laughed at by almost everyone, including death penalty proponents.

      But aside from that, government has no business executing anyone.

      1. The bar should be much higher than you killed someone. Something closer to “locking you up won’t stop you from killing more”.

        1. At one time the only thing that had a death sentence in Rhode Island was murder while serving life. Made sense to me. Last resort.

    2. Maybe if we hadn’t terminated McVeigh we’d have more information to work from in assessing the current widespread threat of right-wing anti-government terrorism.

      1. “…the current widespread threat of right-wing anti-government terrorism…”

        He’l be here all week!

      2. while the far left mobs burn down cities, they could do a lot of good undercover work out in the woods with the right wing threats.

        1. The right-wingers are definitely a threat with all that free legal aid, organization and Soros cash… oh wait.

      3. McVeigh was a patriot, appropriately retaliating for Ruby Ridge and Waco.
        Unfortunately his chosen target was criminally inappropriate so only innocents were killed and injured.
        In the end, even he knew he deserved to die for his crime

  3. From the link.

    Attorney General William P. Barr today directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of Orlando Cordia Hall, who was sentenced to death after kidnapping, raping, and murdering a 16-year-old girl in 1994.

    In September 1994, Hall and several accomplices ran a marijuana trafficking operation out of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. After a failed drug transaction involving $4,700, Hall and his accomplices went to the Arlington, Texas, home of a man they believed had reneged on the deal. The man’s 16-year-old sister, Lisa Rene, answered the door. Although she was simply an innocent bystander, Hall and his accomplices kidnapped her at gunpoint, and Hall raped her in the car. Hall’s accomplices subsequently drove her to a motel in Arkansas, where they raped her several more times. Hall and his accomplices then took her to a park where they had dug a grave. There, they beat her over the head with a shovel, soaked her with gasoline, and buried her alive.

    1. So, if the Feds decline the execute him, can Texas or Arkansas do it for them?

      1. If that girl were related to me, I’d do it for them.

    2. They didn’t burn her after pouring gasoline on her; that shows they were on the path to redeeming themselves and were really just nice boys confused by the climate justice crowd into thinking gasoline is evil.

      1. Jurors who decided his fate, they contend, weren’t aware of the severe trauma Hall experienced growing up and how he had once saved his three-year-old nephew from drowning by leaping from a balcony to rescue the boy at a motel pool.

        “Had jurors known these facts about Mr. Hall, there is every reason to believe they would have spared his life, despite his admitted involvement in a terrible crime,” the lawyers’ statement said.

        I know hearing that a suspect had once saved a family member would make me doubt they could hurt a stranger.

        1. A man who has no capacity for decency should probably sit in a cage forever, as an example to others and as a research test subject.

          But a man does have the capacity for decency… and rapes and kills a kid anyway… is irredeemably damaged garbage, who earned a death penalty.

  4. I’m no fan of the death penalty. But isn’t it sort of their job to carry out legally imposed sentences? If you don’t want executions, try to change the law.

    1. When the law is immoral, it can and should be fought in every possible way (that is itself not immoral) even before changing it.

    1. Like I said above, as governor Bill Clinton executed a man who was effectively retarded just to show how tough he was on crime, and Biden said in a ’98 interview he supported that decision.

      If Biden’s evolved on the issue it’s only because they promised him extra applesauce.

  5. When Biden takes office he should quickly use his commutation powers as president to resentence anybody on death row to life in prison.

    Obama didn’t; it would be funny if he were to weigh in here. I don’t expect Biden to commute sentences either, at least not soon; the optics are too bad, and he wants to concentrate on reversing Trump, not doing the right thing. He’s got a minimum wage to double, guns and fossil fuels to ban, and unions to make mandatory.

    1. Obama supported the death penalty.

  6. And yet, in spite of it all, Donald Trump is still President of the United States. As a nationally elected official, he makes national policy, not four senators out of one hundred.
    Deal with it until (at least) January 20th,

  7. If Leahy and the other Senators want to abolish the death penalty, they can start the process at any time. They are members of the Legislature that controls what the laws are. They don’t have to wait for a new President to make their case. Propose the bill and convince a majority of your peers to pass it. You can ask the Executive Branch to suspend their discretion after you exercise the prerogatives inherent in your own position.

  8. It’s the Pro-Life Party, after all.

    Gosh, the sarcasm isn’t even funny. What the fuck happened to the pro-lifers? Is there some secret clause in the Sixth Commandment that says it only applies to the unborn?

    1. There’s a not-so-secret part of the 6th commandment that it only applies to unjustified murder, but it gets lost in the standard translation from Hebrew to “kill” rather than “murder”

      1. Still, no one able to even consider mercy might be better than revenge? These guys are locked up for life without any possibility for parole. Why do pro-lifers have such a hard-on to kill them?

        I am not against capital punishment. In some cases I feel it’s more than appropriate. But why did htis administration choose to double down on the executions? More than any president since… Truman. Show some restraint!

        Trump’s a lame duck. As is tradition he should be busy pardoning people instead of killing them.

        1. Imagine if the murder victim was your daughter. Then the death penalty doesn’t seem so bad.

        2. Trump’s administration didn’t ‘doubledown’ on executions. They were just proceeding to fulfill their job requirements. The Obama administration chose to universally abdicate those responsibilities and ignored the directly ‘will of the people’ enacted through its representatives and laws.
          Trump did nothing wrong here…just doing the job of the Executive branch. If anyone doesnt’ like that, they should change the damn laws.

        3. Mercy is not for those who likely will kill again if they escaped.

      2. Sure, right after the 10 commandments there are a number of cases laid out where you shall kill. And of course the 10 commandments didn’t say you can’t kill in self defense either. But I think that there are other sources of the pro-life position that easily extend to executions.

    2. I think the idea is some people prefer the unborn child be given a chance to commit a heinous murder, depriving others of live and liberty before its killed.

    3. Supporting the death penalty IS the pro-life position with respect to the victim (which you sick liberals don’t give a shit about).

      1. How do you figure? All it does is end one more life. Makes no difference to the victim. And if you extend victim to include people who care about the direct victim, well, sometimes those victims would prefer mercy to revenge.
        Seems to me that “pro-life” should mean no unnecessary killing. Executions may be justified, but they are never necessary. At least in peace times.

        1. Consider theft of property. If you steal $1000, the court will order you to repay every red cent, and probably more than that.

          Conversely consider murder (“theft” of a life). You should get what, 20 years? Even life behind bars? That’s still paying back less than you took.

          Why should the proportion of justice apply more to money than to human life itself? If you oppose the death penalty, you have placed greater value on the life of the murderer than on the victim. In reality, their lives have equal value, which is why a murderer must be executed because “life” is what they took themselves.

          1. So, then, by your logic:

            Should all murders result in the execution of the perpetrator, regardless of the degree of murder? First degree, second degree, third degree murder? Murder committed by juveniles? Involuntary manslaughter? Murder committed by the insane? All of these should result in execution, in order to “repay” a life?

            What about if a murder is committed by multiple people? Should all of the perpetrators be executed? If so, isn’t that excessive, taking more lives via execution than the one taken via crime? How do you decide who to execute?

            And what about violent crimes that stop short of murder, such as rape or torture? Should those NOT be capital crimes, since no life was taken?

          2. Because it is impossible to pay someone back for a life taken. There is no way to actually compensate someone for that loss. There is no way even to begin to do so.
            And if you do think of it that way, should it not apply to any criminal homicide, not just premeditated murder?
            And there is also the chance that the legal system kills the wrong person. We’ll need to find a responsible party in those cases and kill them too.
            I see what you are saying, and am somewhat sympathetic, but I don’t think that it really holds up to close scrutiny. I have no problem with the notion that murderers deserve to die. But I’m uncomfortable with that power in the hands of the state.

            1. Putting the power in the hands of the state simply requires a proper check and balance. The courts has systems for checks.

              The balance should be legislated: kill any prosecutor, jury, and judges who seek the death penalty for anyone later found innocent. If they die before the defendant, imprison descendants.

          3. Your theory of justice is almost 4,000 years out of date.

            1. Your Marxist, nihilistic worldview cannot even provide a meaningful definition to the word “justice.”

              1. I’m neither a Marxist nor a nihilist. Marx did have a theory of justice that I find unpersuasive, but I gather you have already read extensively on the subject.

            2. I would assume that no free thinking human gives even a single shit about your opinion of what is a fashionable idea.

      2. I can’t believe I’m agreeing with you.

  9. Your citation of Gallup poll results indicating support for the death penalty cites the wrong stats. You cite a biased version of the probe that Gallup uses because it has a long history in Gallup polls. This permits comparison over time. However, the better way to ask the question is: “Which of the following do you agree with more? The penalty for murder should be the death penalty OR life in prison with absolutely no possibility of parole.” When Gallup asked the question this way (Nov. 2019), 60% favored life in prison while only 36% favored the death penalty. You can read more in “The California Killing Field.”

    1. Yet people continue to vote for the death penalty when given that choice, such as a recent California ballot proposition. And California is a very blue state.

      1. Social conditioning. They are simply used to it from their childhood because no one in power is serious enough about changing it.

    2. That’s one poll. Furthermore, the question you use is also biased, since it is probably taken to mean “should every murder be punished by death/imprisonment”, rather than “should the most gruesome murders be punished by death/imprisonment”?

      Try asking the question this way: “For the most gruesome of murders (involving children, rape, torture, mass killings, etc.), should courts have the option of imposing the death penalty as a last resort?” My guess is the majority of Americans would answer “yes”.

      1. No, NOYB2, the question in my post is not biased. That is, in fact, the choice given to jurors during the penalty phase of a death penalty case. The unbiased question that Gallup uses gives the respondent a choice between real options. Your proposed wording is obviously biased. Here’s another biased probe: “Do you agree that Black men should be executed more frequently than White men for the same crime?” Or: “Do you agree that Black men should be executed more frequently than White men when the victim is white?” Those “opinions” reflect the racist underbelly of the death penalty in the U.S.

    3. Generic poll questions are meaningless.

      The thought of execution as a punishment is so severe that people will reject it in the abstract, but support it in the specific. so generic questions like Gallups routinely result in people responding against the death penalty.
      But ask the question as part of a specific scenario, that switches. It is typically only the very religious who have issues with the death penalty for personally egregious crimes.
      A lil’ totalitarian wannabes like Tony love to say they are ‘superior’ and against the death penalty, but would be first in line to stone an unbeliever in their own fantasy world where ‘they’ are in charge.

  10. Execute Biden for treason and crimes against the state. Fuck it…just have a dual roast and put Hunter next to “the big guy”.

  11. Hot damn, maybe old coal mining Joe should have have thought about this shit before he pushed for all that federal death penalty legislation back in the 90s.

    1. Biden changed on the death penalty in the last year to appease the left of his party. He also switched to opposing the Hyde Amendment.

      1. Sorta like how Slick Wiilie was anti-death penalty until he found that made it so he couldn’t get elected so he became pro-death penalty until he was out of office.

        So pro-death penalty, in fact, that he interrupted his presidential campaign to go home to Little Rock and make a big show of signing the death warrant of some retarded guy.

  12. The Dems are against the death penalty unless you’re an unborn baby.

    1. Republicans sure do seem to be slow-walking their crusade to save the babies.

      It’s almost like they prefer that it’s not resolved. Like immigration, really.

      1. Republicans sure do seem to be slow-walking their crusade to save the babies.

        Trump did what he could: cutting funding for abortion domestically and abroad, changing rules for counseling etc.

        Of course, abortion should be regulated at the state level. Until Roe v. Wade is reversed, it’s difficult to see what else any Republican can do.

  13. I support the death penalty for first degree murder and treason as long as the person’s guilt is obvious. I always think about how the victims died and how their families want justice. This is one thing I do agree with Trump on.

    1. Murder, sure. Treason is in the eye of the prosecutor.

      1. “Treason” as in “selling US nuclear secrets to our enemies”.

  14. I am opposed to the death penalty on strictly moral grounds – killing is wrong and should be avoided when possible. None of the pragmatic reasons, just “it ain’t right”.

    That being said… I am also opposed to our ludicrous version of the death penalty – and particularly this intentional sentencing people to death but not using the death penalty thing. That is just… immoral.

    If you have a death penalty, you damned well better have your legal ducks in a row and everything wired tight. Then actually execute people. Failing to do so means you don’t actually believe in the system of justice, which should be much more worrisome than a single execution.

    We do this a lot – simply ignore the black letter law and do as we please. Usually we talk about it in terms of things like gun control, where we just flat out ignore the text of the constitution. But the same goes for immigration law – exactly how are those tens of millions of illegal immigrants earning a living and staying here if we are enforcing the law as written?

    Libertarians should be in favor of getting rid of most laws… and enforcing the ones we do have with a fairly straightforward interpretation and a sense of justice.

    Letting people sit on death row for 30 years doesn’t fit that prescription at all.

    1. “…If you have a death penalty, you damned well better have your legal ducks in a row and everything wired tight…”

      There’s your problem, right there. Prosecutors are paid to get convictions, and outside of any cynicism, they can also just flat make mistakes:
      “Eighteen people have been proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the United States after serving time on death row. They were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 229 years in prison – including 202 years on death row – for crimes they didn’t commit.”

      1. The problem with the innocence project is that they use the term ‘innocent’ in the legal sense, not necessarily the actual sense. DNA testing is being used to provide new reasonable doubt, particularly where poor evidence maintainence procedures were followed. enough to reopen a trial and force the state to try to reconvict something from a decade prior when they have little interest in fighting anymore. It’s not necessary that they were ever ‘innocent’ but rather that the system is being played to get people off death row.
        The idea of the innocent person on death row convicted by a corrupt justice system, does certainly happen. But not anywhere near the level that is claimed by anti-death penalty activists.

  15. OT: But Reason’s favorite Republican, Ben Sasse, opposes withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    Reason picks winners.

    1. Wouldn’t it have been smarter for Trump to pull troops BEFORE the election so he could actually campaign on the issue?

      1. Apparently he has been trying to, but the Pentagon and others were actively preventing him from doing so, up to and including misrepresenting facts. It would have required him to fire all of them, which would have been a political nightmare in an election year. Now, he can clear house.
        It’s a shame he didn’t slash and burn the deep state to the ground in 2017, but not sure anyone really knew how bad it had become. I’m sure the players were playing him all along.

  16. President-Elect Biden’s plan for strengthening America’s commitment to justice includes the elimination of the federal death penalty

    Congress decides whether the death penalty is applicable, and courts decide to impose it in individual cases. The preferences of the executive branch are irrelevant.

    Biden and Harris seem to believe they have been elected dictators who aren’t constrained by courts and Congress; they are wrong.

    1. Can’t Biden commute sentences, though?

  17. How do you figure? All it does is end one more life. Makes no difference to the victim. And if you extend victim to include people who care about the direct victim, well, sometimes those victims would prefer mercy to revenge.
    Seems to me that “pro-life” should mean no unnecessary killing. Executions may be justified, but they are never necessary. At least in peace times.

    1. What about the family members who DO want revenge?

  18. Unless the executions were scheduled after the election was decided – something that still hasn’t happened – the opinion of the incoming president has no bearing on the action, nor should it be taken into account.

  19. Take an innocent life, loose your won life.
    It’s a good policy as long as we ensure adequate evidence before flipping the switch.
    Execution results in permanent rehabilitation 100% of the time and gives the victim’s family justice and closure

  20. Ironically, the incoming regime – chock full of neo-con/neo-progressive interventionist warmongers and war-profiteers – is also opposing Trump’s troop withdrawals.

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