Death Penalty

Barr's Justice Department Prepares To End Trump's Term With an Execution Spree

Three more death row inmates have been scheduled to die.


The Department of Justice has scheduled three more federal executions as America prepares for a new administration, two of them just days before President-elect Joe Biden will take office.

On Friday, Attorney General William Barr announced that the Bureau of Prisons will execute three more inmates currently on death row in December and January. The last execution is scheduled for January 15, just five days before Biden will be inaugurated to succeed President Donald Trump.

Assuming all currently scheduled federal executions take place, the Trump administration will have put a total of 13 inmates to death, all over the course of just seven months. No presidential administration in modern history has come anywhere close to executing this many inmates in such a short period. You'd have to go back to the 19th century to see anything like this.

Earlier in the month, a group of Democratic lawmakers who are opposed to the death penalty sent a letter to Barr trying to get him to stop executing prisoners. Biden (and the Democratic Party) both officially oppose the death penalty and had hoped for some sort of concessions for the incoming administration. That request clearly fell on deaf ears.

The three inmates added to the list of scheduled executions are Alfred Bourgeois, Cory Johnson, and Dustin John Higgs. Each of the men was convicted of particularly harsh crimes. Bourgeois was accused of abusing and beating his own 2-year-old daughter to death in 2002. Johnson and Higgs have both been convicted of multiple murders: seven for Johnson and three for Higgs. The DOJ has the details here.

The attorneys for all three men have put out statements decrying Barr's decision to execute them. All three of the inmates claim intellectual disabilities. Johnson was tested with an IQ of 69 when he was a teenager, and according to his attorneys, he grew up in a residential facility after his mother abandoned him at age 13.

As for Higgs, he didn't kill anybody, noted his attorney Sean Nolan. The actual shooter, Willis Mark Haynes, was sentenced to life in prison. Nolan said in a prepared statement, "Mr. Higgs was prosecuted on the unreliable theory that he ordered Mr. Haynes to kill the victims in his case. That theory was supported exclusively by the contested testimony of Victor Gloria, a cooperating co-defendant who received a substantial deal in exchange for his cooperation. Attorneys for Mr. Higgs argue that a federal death verdict should not rest on such flimsy testimony."

On Thursday, death row inmate Orlando Hall was executed with little fanfare after the Supreme Court declined to stop it. Scheduling more men to die after it has become clear that Trump has lost the election but before the transition to Biden—who doesn't want to execute them—is a pretty nasty way to end an administration.

NEXT: Was Sidney Powell's Conspiracy Theory Too Crazy Even for Donald Trump?

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    To execute them is my real test,
    To kill them is my cause!

    (I will travel across the land,
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    Each Criminal to understand
    The power that’s inside!)

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  2. Government executions are immoral, but some are more immoral than others, and Higgs is one of those. Relying on jailhouse snitches is immoral too, but some are more immoral than others, and Higgs’ snitch is one of those.

    Higgs doesn’t sound like an innocent bystander, but when the real shooter gets life and the accomplice gets death, something is rotten.

    1. Higgs offered the women a ride back to Washington, D.C., but instead drove to a secluded area in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, ordered the women out of the vehicle, gave a gun to one of the friends, and said, “better make sure they’re dead.”

      1. According to the co-defendant who had a lot to gain.

        I don’t see how there isn’t reasonable doubt when that’s the source of the evidence.

        1. Yes, that was my point. Relying on snitches whose priority is saving their own miserable life is hardly justice.

          I don’t understand how any juror could take anything a snitch says at face value. I know prosecutors don’t tell them what was traded for that testimony, but the jurors must know it’s a jailhouse snitch and former accomplice.

    2. If executions are immoral, so is life imprisonment. Perhaps more so. But all involved in a crime should get the same sentence, whether the shooter or robber or lookout. That would make it easy.

    3. Nothing immoral about government executions for murder if a fair trial was provided. It is immoral to do otherwise. A fundamental purpose of government is to protect the lives of citizens from aggression (foreign or domestic). Murder executions demonstrate the sanctity of human life by demanding that a murderer forfeit his own for violating that precept. Notwithstanding that, I agree that if two are involved, and one is offered a deal to save his skin by pointing the finger at the other, that is problematic.

  3. Serious question. How are these get past the state courts and turn into Federal crimes? The Constitution only identifies piracy, counterfeiting, and treason.

    1. That’s a good question. The problem isn’t so much that they are trying to execute them now as that there are so many people on federal death row at all for ordinary murders.

      1. I want everyone to think about the phrase “ordinary murders”.

    2. Daemon can Poot the laws into whatever he wants to courts to say they say, right?

    3. Probably the infamous interstate commerce clause. If something gets transferred across a border… As for Higgs, took the victim from DC to Maryland.

    4. The murder of the two year old occured on a naval base thus making it a federal murder case. The 2nd case involved drug trafficking which is also a federal crime and the third case involved kidnapping and the victims were lured to a national park before they were murdered thus making it a federal case. Also not mentioned was the woman who killed a woman and ripped out her baby. She will be executed in January as well.

  4. “ Bourgeois was accused”

    Or convicted?

  5. Y’all should read this

    Even the real killer’s confession wasn’t enough to exonerate him.

  6. I’m against the death penalty, but these men didn’t just fuck up in a regrettable moment of passion.

    Alfred Bourgeois abused, tortured, and beat his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to death. After a paternity test identified him as the father of girl and a court ordered that he pay child support to the mother… Bourgeois systematically abused and tortured her — including by punching her in the face, whipping her with an electrical cord, and burning the bottom of her foot with a cigarette lighter.

    Cory Johnson murdered seven people.

    Dustin John Higgs kidnapped and executed three women for kicks.

    1. Justice should be about rehabilitation, reformation, and eventual release. Why do people still seek revenge when you can’t change the past?

      1. Take it to the logical extreme: do you think the Nuremberg trials should have resulted in “rehabilitation, reformation, and eventual release” of the Nazi leadership?

        1. do you think the Nuremberg trials should have resulted in “rehabilitation, reformation, and eventual release” of the Nazi leadership?

          Case by case, right? That very thing happened with many WWII tribunals.

      2. Because you can change the future, and some people are irredeemable. Eventual release means more torture, rapes and murders. It happens over and over. Psychopaths just don’t care, they get to much pleasure from their crimes..

      3. Justice should be about rehabilitation, reformation, and eventual release.

        Justice should be first about deterrence. Yes, if deterrence doesn’t work, then we can discuss the fallbacks — but first and foremost, I want would-be criminals thinking “I probably am better off not doing that…”

        Why do people still seek revenge when you can’t change the past?

        “Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen.”
        — Lord Halifax

        1. Dead murderers are seldom recidivists.

      4. Rehabilitation? Do you want these scumbags living next to you? Only an idiot believes what you just wrote. Some crimes are unforgivable and you give up your right to freedom and sometimes the right to breathe.

      5. You’re going to reform a guy that murdered 7 people? I’ll support rehabilitation for people like that when you acquire the power to raise their victims from the dead.

      6. No, it should about protecting others in the public from bad, evil people, first.

        Then it should be about punishment and justice.

        You can attempt some rehabilitation in there, but most people in prison for violent crimes are irredeemable and cannot be rehabilitated.

        You live in a pathetic fantasy world.

      7. That’s funny, Harv. Then why jail them at all? Jails are just crime schools.

      8. “Justice should be about rehabilitation, reformation, and eventual release.”

        No. Society has the right and duty to demonstrate that some acts are so wicked that the penalty to be paid is death. Your approach devalues human life. It sends the message that a man can torture and murder another human being and be on his merry way just as soon as he gets his act together.

    2. I have no sympathy to waste on the likes Bourgeois, Johnson and Higgs.

    3. These guys are competing with Ceausescu!

  7. “is a pretty nasty way to end an administration.”

    Even nastier is Shackford’s failure to try to even oppose the death penalty

    1. Oppose it all you want… at your own expense.

    2. And all of it pales in comparison to the loss of a family member to the human fecal matter that took they lives.

  8. If you don’t like the death penalty, put out a constitutional amendment. I’d vote for it.

    However, trying to moralize and hand wring about enacting a legally administered punishment is absurd. Keeping people on death row for decades is immoral. We need to either commute their sentences to life imprisonment officially or get it over with.

    Obama was a coward. Every one of these men were on death row for his entire term. He delayed these executions but didn’t have the stomach to officially commute them, trying to play both sides.

  9. “Johnson was tested with an IQ of 69”

    69, haha!
    – Adam Sandler

    1. If literal retards shouldn’t be executed because of their mental deficits, should we also prohibit them from voting?

      1. That depends, should we also prevent them from becoming president? (Dementia Joe!)

    1. No, everyone is innocent in prison.

  10. Any “compassionate” liberal who is hand wringing over this: you ARE aligning yourselves with villains, and openly admitting that you align with violent villainy. (while completely disregarding their innocent victims)

    What does that say about YOU?

    1. I´d rather align myself with violent villains that are sitiing in jail powerless, than with violent villains that are actually holding power of life and death over others legally.

  11. >>Scheduling more men to die

    I am always the person here to say l’Etat should never kill a man. These people were “scheduled to die” by the judge or jury who sentenced them. Fuck off quite a bit for hanging it on T.

    1. Good old T. He probably doesn’t even know about it. It all just happened to happen. Is it nap time? Tell me a story about our Dear Leader.

      1. sorry you’re so jealous of his awesome. just be happy you’re you.

      2. That racist ex-crackhead Obama was far closer to the Dear Leader than Trump ever was you cretinous clown.

  12. They do worship a god who once murdered the enitire world by drowning everyone. Even the babies and tolders. I bet they were easy to murder. What a wonderful story. A beautiful cleansing flood. We should teach our children that story. What could go wrong?

  13. Toddlers, I can’t even spell.

  14. The Trump administration can do no wrong. Therefore these state killings must be ordained of God!

    1. I particularly like the way Trump influenced jurors in 1993, 2000, and 2004 to have the defendants convicted and sentenced to death in those years.

      In two of the cases, Clinton could have granted a pardon. In all of the cases, Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump all had the chance to grant pardons. None did. Though I bet under Obama Biden was zealously making the case for commuting all death sentences. /sarc

      1. Sorry, I mentioned Clinton one time too many. Only the first reference to Clinton was correct.

  15. Evidently, no one cares enough to build a nuclear weapon to defend those who are being executed.

  16. Orlando Hall raped a 16 year old girl.
    Then he tried to kill her by hitting her in the head with a shovel.
    She showed signs of life as he was burying her, so he burned her alive.
    This crime is so heinous that I think he should be executed.

  17. Great news. No use to keep adding death row prisoners if you are not going to let them finish their sentences.

  18. So the creeps whose need for expert perjury against plant leaves created an unaffordable Medical-Pharmacalogical Cartel, and whose girl-bullying and ordering First Responders™ to break down doors and shoot kids and dogs cost Boss Trump the election are suddenly sobbing into pink doilies over pansy-left opposition to letting punishment fit crimes?

    1. Lay off the drugs. You’re incoherent in the extreme.

    2. “So the creeps whose need for expert perjury against plant leaves created an unaffordable Medical-Pharmacalogical Cartel, and whose girl-bullying and ordering First Responders™ to break down doors and shoot kids and dogs cost Boss Trump the election are suddenly sobbing into pink doilies over pansy-left opposition to letting punishment fit crimes?”

      It looks like English, but I think you should go see a doctor. You might be having a stroke.

  19. The World will be a better place w/o these three scumbags.

  20. execution is a kind of murder and the administration is displaying a pretty creepy aggression on top of all the covid cases it willfully created

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  22. “Each of the men was convicted of particularly harsh crimes.”

    How many people on death row, were not convicted of “harsh crimes”.

    What a really dumb thing to write.

    1. He might have chosen a different word than “harsh,” but the point he was making is reasonably clear: these were worse murders than average, whether because of multiple victims or prolonged torture.

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  24. Kill these fuckers before Kameltoe or Sleepy Joe lets em’ go! They’ve been oxygen leeches for way too long!

  25. “Scheduling more men to die after it has become clear that Trump has lost the election but before the transition to Biden—who doesn’t want to execute them—is a pretty nasty way to end an administration.”

    Enforcing the law is nasty? Why the f*** should I care what Biden or anyone else “wants”? It’s the law. It is not “nasty” to enforce the law. They did the crime, they went through the judicial system, and they were condemned to die for their crimes. If you don’t like the law, you try to change the law. But until that happens, if leaders don’t enforce the law, they are the ones in the wrong. I’m tired of politicians cherry-picking favored laws to enforce and then freely disregarding ones they personally dislike. I bet Biden wanted to make sure Amy Coney Barrett would follow the law and not her personal preferences. Grow a pair, guys, and take a stand if you don’t like it – make a change. That is the job of the legislature. Don’t just posture without taking a stand. Stick your neck out and try to change things you think need to be changed. The rules are on the books for a reason. Do you think you and I have the luxury of saying, “I prefer not to get a driver’s license and register my car and pay those car tabs” the next time we get pulled over? It’s ridiculous. Enforce the law or change the law. I don’t care if you think it is “nasty” or not.

  26. I get that the Trump administration is rushing through these, as this sort of Law and Order attitude is part of what he promised to push. I think it resonated in a positive way for many of his supporters. I am not a Trump supporter, but I get it, and am not “shocked” about us implementing the death penalty. I get that Liberatarians have a problem with the death penalty. I get that CNN and MSNBC scream how terrible this is, But what I don’t get is why Trump waited. Why didn’t he start pushing this months ago, after the CoronaVirus chaos screwed his chances at re-election, but before the election? If anything, this would have helped his re-election chances, just like pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s like the Trump administration just realized that they are almost out of time, and realized, oh, there is all this stuff we were gonna do but never got around to, let’s hurry up and do what we can. Strange. They really are disorganized. In any case, none of these people are “innocent”, so no mercy from me.

    1. I think the courts simply ran out of stays – Trump’s only role (if applicable) would be appointing the judges and granting/refusing clemency.

  27. Sometimes even an asshat like Trump can get something right.

  28. Sounds like a good plan to me. This is one of those issues where I think some people’s ideological beliefs override their common sense. I expect they tend to be less self-righteous when a victim of the heinous crimes these people are convicted of is one of their own family.

  29. “Barr’s Justice Depa!!rtment Prepares To End Trump’s Term With an Execution Spree”

    No WONDER he doesn’t want to admit he lost

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  32. There are some crimes for which any punishment less than death is a miscarriage of justice. That being said I think a higher standard of guilt must be applied for death penalty cases, “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not high enough.

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