FILE PHOTO: The sun sets on the Federal Corrections Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, U.S. May 22, 2019, where death row inmate Orlando Hall is being held. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Brandon Bernard became the ninth federal inmate to be executed since July, and four more executions are scheduled before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. If those additional sentences are carried out, that will be most any president has seen in office in a century and the most federal executions that have taken place in a year since the 1920s. 

The federal government executed Bernard Thursday for his involvement in a 1999 murder of youth ministers Todd and Stacie Bagley on Fort Hood. The Supreme Court denied an eleventh-hour petition to delay the execution by two weeks, with three dissenting opinions.

Bernard’s co-defendant, Christopher Vialva, was executed Sept. 22. Bernard’s execution was the first during a lame-duck period in 130 years, defying precedent that allowed for an incoming president to weigh in. President-elect Biden has indicated he is in favor of ending the death penalty. Prisoner Alfred Bourgeois is set to be executed Friday, the second execution to take place at the Terre Haute, Ind., federal prison this week.

A renewed push for clemency in recent weeks included support from five jurors on the case who said Bernard’s lawyers did not defend him well during the trial. Attorneys for Bernard said they found through their own investigation that prosecutors withheld information that could have proven Bernard was a low risk to re-offend. Angela Moore, the prosecutor of the case, now says the death penalty is too harsh given new evidence. A petition to halt the execution reached more than 390,000 signatures by the day of the execution. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops advocated to end federal executions this week. High-profile Democrats and celebrities called for abolishing the death penalty in the hours in the hours following Bernard’s death.

Todd Bagley’s mother said Thursday that the process allowed for closure for her family. “Please remember that the lives of family and friends were shattered and we all have grieved for 21 years waiting for justice to be served,” Georgia Bagley said in a statement. Bagley told reporters she forgave both Bernard and Vialva following apologies and remorse from both defendants prior to their deaths.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Fighting From Federal Death Row in My Friend Brandon Bernard’s Memory – The Nation – 12/11/2020
This federal killing spree was already unprecedented when it began in July, after a 17-year hiatus. It’s even more egregious that the Department of Justice added five more names after the elections. As I sat in my cell on federal death row, the clock ticking closer to Brandon Bernard’s execution, my mind lingered on the person killed here on federal death row before Brandon: His name was Orlando Hall, executed on November 19, and he was a close friend of mine—as was Brandon.

Ahead of Brandon Bernard’s Execution, Urgent Requests to Save His Life Come From Politicians, Over 400,000 Petitioners and Kim Kardashian – The Root – 12/10/2020
None of Bernard’s numerous appeals against his death sentence conviction in 2000 for the deaths of Todd and Stacie Bagley have been successful, and his execution is one of five that the Trump administration has scheduled to take place before President-elect Biden’s inauguration January—breaking with tradition during a presidential transition period. In the hours that remain before Bernard’s execution, which falls on Human Rights Day, members of Congress and the general public have issued urgent appeals for Bernard’s death sentence to be commuted.

Trump’s Last-Minute Execution Spree Has Begun – Intelligencer – 12/10/2020
With Trump on his way out of office, he and his attorney general plan to execute another four inmates in a last-minute rush before the inauguration of Joe Biden, who opposes capital punishment. The next inmate, Alfred Bourgeois, will be executed on Friday at the same prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, while the final execution, of Dustin Higgs, will take place less than a week before Biden becomes president. Unless any legal challenges delay the lethal injections, Trump will have executed more Americans than any president in a given year since 1896, a grim record that he set in just seven months.

Last-minute emergency request to halt Brandon Bernard’s execution denied – The Washington Times – 12/10/2020
Bernard’s case attracted attention from Democratic lawmakers and celebrity activists, who pleaded with Mr. Trump to commute his sentence to life in prison because of newly-discovered evidence. Since the Trump administration resumed federal executions after a 17-year hiatus, Democrats have largely been mum about the eight federal inmates put to death so far. But they say the case of Brandon Bernard is different because newly uncovered evidence raises questions about his role in the murders.

Not Even COVID-19 Infections Among Prison Staff Can Convince the Feds To Halt Executions – Reason – 12/9/2020
On November 19, the federal government executed Orlando Hall, the eighth man to be put to death in 2020 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) under President Donald Trump. The Bureau of Prisons reported that eight staff members who participated in Hall’s executions have subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, as did Hall’s spiritual adviser. Nevertheless, the Associated Press reports that five of those prison staff members are planning to take part in two more executions scheduled for Thursday and Friday. An attorney for the DOJ is defending the decision, telling a judge Tuesday that they should be allowed to move forward anyway because they’re following proper protocols.

U.S. Catholic Bishops Launch Advent Appeal to End Federal Executions – Breitbart – 12/8/2020
“We’ve asked many times to stop the federal executions,” declare Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a joint statement Monday. “In fact, last Advent, three bishops wrote that the resumption of federal executions was at odds with this season of anticipated redemption,” the bishops state. “But the executions resumed. Eight since July. Two more this week. Three in January. A new regulation will permit federal execution by means other than lethal injection, such as the electric chair.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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