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They just can't stop killing people, can they?

Donald Trump and Bill Barr have been on a killing spree this year — and we aren't just talking about COVID-19.

Until July of this year, there hadn't been a federal execution in nearly two decades. But since July, we have already seen eight. And there are still two more to come. Plus another three in January, just to really cap things off in the horror show that has been the Trump presidency.

And because setting records for state-sanctioned killing isn't enough, they've also decided to bring back federal execution by firing squad, poison gas, the electric chair, and hanging.


What in the actual fuck?!

American support for the death penalty is at its lowest point ever. There have been fewer state-level executions this year than in any year since colonial times. But don't tell that to Donald Trump and Bill Barr.

In the 50 years preceding 2020, the federal government had executed just three people. In 2020, they have already killed eight. In less than five months. If the two additional executions scheduled to take place this month go forward as planned, that will leave 2020 with more federal executions than any other single year since the 1800s.

But that's not all! Trump and Barr are also going for another execution record: most prisoners killed during a presidential transition in 125 years. Gotta kill as many people as you can before you lose power, I guess. Five more executions are scheduled to take place before Joe Biden is sworn in. One execution is scheduled to take place three days before Biden takes office.

Last week, the Justice Department gave itself more ways to kill people. It was part of a broader scheme by the sociopaths in our executive branch to destroy our federal government on their way out of town. One of the many ways Trump is trying to screw the people before he leaves office is by fucking up a whole bunch of federal rules as fast as he can.

One of those rules is the "Manner of Federal Executions" rule, which was fast-tracked, with only 30 days for public comment instead of the standard 60. This rule was pushed through by Barr at the behest of Trump. Unless it is stopped by a court, the rule will go into effect on Christmas Eve.

The new rule on execution methods allows the feds to execute prisoners by lethal injection or "any other manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence was imposed[.]" Laws are on the books in a number of states allowing execution by hanging, electrocution, nitrogen gas, and firing squad.

Here, in the 21st century, we could actually see the United States government kill its own citizens in a gas chamber or an electric chair, by hanging them with a rope, or at the end of a rifle.

When asked whether the DOJ would use these methods to execute people, an official said the US government "will never execute an inmate by firing squad or electrocution unless the relevant state has itself authorized that method of execution[.]" The same official said the two December executions would be carried out via lethal injection but refused to give information about the three executions scheduled for early January.

OMFG

Joe Biden is the president-elect and a new day is coming. But Trump and Barr are determined to go out with a bang — literally — so here we are. Because gods forbid we have a single day in 2020 that doesn't look like a dystopian hellscape.

Four of the five people the federal government is set to kill are Black men; despite making up just 13 percent of the US population, Black people comprise more than 44 percent of federal Death Row prisoners.

The fifth prisoner set to be killed is a woman — the first woman to be executed by the federal government in 67 years. She was born with brain damage, and as a child, she was raped, trafficked, and used as a sex slave. She suffers from severe mental illness.

Hopefully, none of us will ever again see the US government kill someone with the barbaric methods Trump's rule allows. Four of the five executions are already set to use lethal injection. But the death penalty itself is an archaic anachronism. And the federal executions in 2020 will go down in history as a bloody stain that Americans should be ashamed of.

Biden, for his part, campaigned on ending the death penalty and has said he will not allow any federal executions. He also said he plans to incentivize states to end capital punishment. And that's great! But it won't do anything to take back all of the blood that has already been shed.

[ProPublica / Al Jazeera / Death Penalty Info Center / New Yorker / The Root / Vox]

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.
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