The Trump administration’s ineptitude in dealing with the COVID-19 virus has led to the avoidable deaths of over 300,000 U.S. citizens, soon to surpass 400,000.

As if that’s not enough deaths, the Trump administration in the last half of 2020 has begun executing federal prisoners on death row, thereby ending a 17-year moratorium on executions.

I don’t think I’m being cynical in pointing out that the executions are taking place right after the Republican Party’s renomination of President Trump last July as the party’s candidate for president. How better to show you’re tough on crime than by killing prisoners on death row in the federal prison system?

The other day I read the Death Penalty Information Center’s just-issued “The Death Penalty in 2020: Year End Report.” The report covers thoroughly death penalty statistics in all 50 states, plus military and federal system.

One federal system statistic in the report, besides ending of the 17-year moratorium on executions, is the following: “The 10 people executed under the federal death penalty in the second half of 2020 exceeded the number executed by all of the states combined, the first time in the history of the United States in which the federal government carried out more civilian executions than did the states.”

The report describes specific executions, often accompanied by photos of the prisoners executed: “The rash of executions was also aberrant in its selections of prisoners to be put to death. The condemned included the first Native American ever executed by the federal government for a murder of a member of his own tribe on tribal lands; the first federal executions of teenaged offenders in 68 years; the first federal execution in 57 years for a crime committed in a state that had abolished the death penalty; the scheduled executions of two prisoners who medical evidence indicated had intellectual disability; the scheduled executions of two prisoners with serious mental illness, including one who may have been mentally incompetent at the time of his execution; the scheduled executions of two prisoners who did not kill anyone and three who were less culpable than co-defendants who received lesser sentences; the first lame-duck executions in more than a century; and executions carried out against the wishes of victims’ family members, trial or appellate prosecutors in the cases, and at least one of the judges who presided at trial.”

Gary Dielman

Baker City

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