U.S. Government Outstrips States in 2020 Execution Tally

The U.S. Government recently started executing inmates again. It reached a grim milestone this month with the news it has carried out more executions in a year than all states that have the death penalty – including Texas, a state that typically executes more people than any other.

President Donald Trump resumed federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. The federal government carried out 10 executions at a time when states are using the death penalty on fewer and fewer people.

The Death Penalty Information Center reported the federal tally this year was a higher yearly total than under any presidency since the 1800s.

In contrast, states carried out just seven executions in 2020, reported CBS News. COVID-19 restrictions pushed the number down. In 2019, states carried out 22 executions. According to Texas Death Penalty Facts, the Lone Star State executed just three inmates in 2020. Executions in Texas peaked in 2000 when the state put 40 people to death. Texas executed nine inmates in 2019. It has already set six execution dates for 2021, half of them in Tarrant County.

The Trump administration has scheduled three more executions before the inauguration of Joe Biden as president on Jan 20. They include Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row. Montgomery was convicted of using a rope to strangle a pregnant woman and cutting her baby out of her womb in 2004.

Biden is an opponent of the death penalty. His inauguration is likely to spell an end to the federal execution spree.

The federal executions in recent months included two men who were convicted of murders on military property in Texas.

The Texas Tribune noted 40-year-old Brandon Bernard was executed in the federal death chamber in Indiana this month. He was one of five gang members convicted of the killing of youth ministers Stacie and Todd Bailey in Killeen, Texas in 1999. Bernard was only 18 at the time of the crime. His attorneys said he did not play a leading role in the killings.

Bernard’s case was in the headlines for months after celebrities including Kim Kardashian West called for Trump to commute the death sentence. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson called on Trump to commute the sentences of and pardon all the inmates scheduled for execution.

Alfred Bourgeois, 56, was executed less than 24 hours after Bernard. Bourgeois ended up on federal death row for physically and sexually abusing his two-year-old daughter before killing her as he traveled through Texas while working as a long-haul truck driver. His lawyers argued he suffered from a severe intellectual disability that should have precluded him from execution. Bernard and Bourgeois were the ninth and 10th federal executions of the year.

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