WASHINGTON – The Justice Department ordered three executions before the January 20 swearing-in of Joe Biden, who opposes the death penalty and has said he will try to repeal it in the country.
The United States government this year authorized the first federal execution in 17 years, after the Supreme Court of Justice gave the green light to the death penalty of Daniel Lewis Lee, who was executed by lethal injection in Indiana.
With this year’s execution, the United States resumed this punishment after the Trump administration ended almost a year ago an informal moratorium enacted in the country in 2003. The federal death penalty had been reinstated in 1988, but only it has been applied three times.
The Justice Department is believed to increase pressure on Biden to decide whether his government will continue to order executions. Human rights groups have called on the Donald Trump administration to halt all executions.
For now, it is known that Biden opposes the death penalty, but it is not clear if he would suspend them immediately after assuming the US presidency.
Federal executions resumed this year despite the coronavirus pandemic that has swept through prisons. The Justice Department has executed more people this year than in the previous half century despite more and more Democrats and Republicans speaking out against its application.
The department said in a court document on Friday that it ordered the execution of Alfred Bourgeois for Dec. 11 and Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs for Jan. 14 and 15. There were two more executions scheduled for this year, including the first of a woman in 60 years, but on Thursday a federal judge ruled that it should not take place this year.
Barton always maintained his innocence and for his defense he received the support of the lawyers of the Innocence Project organization, which aims to exonerate the inmates it considers to be wrongly imprisoned from their sentences.