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DOJ plans three executions before Biden inauguration

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An empty prison cell is seen in this Aug. 30, 2018, file photo. Several bills pending in Congress would attempt to correct sentencing disparities.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) plans to conduct three executions in the final weeks of President Trump’s administration and ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Two men and one woman are scheduled to be executed before Biden becomes president after he has declared that he will reverse the Trump administration’s resumption of capital punishment. 

The Trump administration restarted federal executions in July after a 17-year pause and has since executed seven people. Before the unofficial break from executions, the federal government executed only three people in the last 50 years, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

The three scheduled executions left this year are for 49-year-old Orlando Cordia Hall, 40-year-old Brandon Bernard and 52-year-old Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row.

All three inmates have ongoing litigation regarding their capital punishment, The New York Times reported. But thus far this year, the Supreme Court has not accepted their arguments on postponing their executions, even before Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed. 

The DOJ did not immediately return a request for comment on the scheduling. 

Hall was convicted of kidnapping resulting in death after he and others abducted, raped and buried a 16-year-old alive in 1994. Bernard, along with accomplices, murdered two youth ministers in 1999, the DOJ said. One of his accomplices Christopher Vialva was executed in September.

Montgomery, who would become the first woman executed in almost 70 years had been convicted in kidnapping resulting in death in 2007 after strangling a pregnant woman and abducting the unborn child. 

Biden’s campaign has vowed to end federal executions and incentivize states to halt their executions.

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the Times that executions during a transition of power were extremely unusual.

“This is another part of the Trump legacy that’s inconsistent with American norms,” he said. “If the administration followed the normal rules of civility that have been followed throughout the history in this country, it wouldn’t be an issue. The executions wouldn’t go forward.”

Tags 2020 election Amy Coney Barrett Capital punishment death penalty Department of Justice DOJ Donald Trump executions federal executions Joe Biden Transition of power

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