Trump's Executions Will Be Most of Any President in Over a Century

President Donald Trump may execute more people this year than any president in a century if executions scheduled before President-elect Joe Biden assumes office on January 20 take place.

No federal executions had taken place since 2003 until earlier this year, when convicted mass murderer Daniel Lewis Lee was put to death on July 14. Since then, eight further executions have been carried out.

Brandon Bernard was put to death on Thursday. The 40 year old had been convicted of murder as a teenager in 1999 and high profile pleas for clemency failed to win him a reprieve.

Four further executions are scheduled from this Friday, 11 December to January 15, 2021—well into the president's lame duck period.

If all the sentences are carried out, total federal executions will reach 13 since July. This will be the most executions for any president in 100 years.

The scheduled death sentences violate a 130 year old precedent that typically sees executions paused during the transition period so that the incoming president can weigh in on the matter.

Attorney General William Barr has defended his decision to schedule the executions, saying they are in accordance with the law. The federal death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 1988 but instances have been rare.

"I think the way to stop the death penalty is to repeal the death penalty," Barr told the Associated Press on December 7. "But if you ask juries to impose it, then it should be carried out."

Barr also suggested he could schedule more executions before Inauguration Day.

Alfred Bourgeois is set to be executed on Friday for the torture and murder of his two year old daughter, according to BBC News. Bourgeois has been on death row since 2004 and an earlier scheduled execution was delayed by a court after his legal team argued Bourgeois was intellectually disabled. This ruling was later overturned.

The next federal execution is due to take place on January 12 when Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to be put to death. Montgomery strangled a pregnant woman in Missouri in 2004 and then cut out and kidnapped the woman's baby. Like Bourgeois, her lawyers argue she suffers from serious mental illness. She would be the first woman executed by the federal government since Bonny Heady in 1953.

Cory Johnson and Dustin John Higgs, both men convicted of murder, will be executed on January 14 and 15, respectively, just days before Biden takes the oath of office.

Trump has been a vocal advocate of the death penalty for most of his public career, while Biden's approach has been less consistent. However, the president-elect has said he will work to end executions once in office.

Trump Raises His Fist at a Rally
President Donald Trump raises his fist at the end of a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5. Five federal executions are due to take place before he leaves office. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images