Trump Administration Resumes Federal Death Penalty, Schedules Executions for 5 Child-Killers

Attorney General William Barr speaks at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Annual Candlelight Vigil to commemorate new names added to the monument, during a ceremony at the National Mall in Washington, Monday May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday morning that it is resuming the federal death penalty, starting with the execution of five death row inmates who have been convicted of murdering children.

In a press release, the DOJ announced:

Attorney General William P. Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to adopt a proposed Addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol—clearing the way for the federal government to resume capital punishment after a nearly two decade lapse, and bringing justice to victims of the most horrific crimes.  The Attorney General has further directed the Acting Director of the BOP, Hugh Hurwitz, to schedule the executions of five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society—children and the elderly.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Attorney General Barr said.  “Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding.  The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

The DOJ also provided detailed descriptions of the inmates and the crimes they committed. They include: Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist who murdered an eight-year-old girl and her family; Lezmond Mitchell, who brutally murdered a grandmother and her granddaughter; Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and murdered a teenage girl and bludgeoned a disabled elderly woman to death; Alfred Bourgeois, who sexually abused and murdered his daughter, a toddler; and Dustin Lee Honken, who shot five people to death, including two children.

The DOJ announcement comes just days after former vice president Joe Biden announced his new criminal justice policy, which includes ending the federal death penalty. Biden’s policy was a reversal of decades of a “tough-on-crime” approach, which is now out of favor in the Democratic Party and is blamed for racism in the criminal justice system.

President Donald Trump favors the death penalty, including for drug dealers.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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