Warning: This article does not use euphemisms to refer to the federal government’s killing policies.
After more than a decade without an execution, the attorney general—who previously played the role of Peter Griffin on Family Guy—announced that the federal government will start killing people once again, ordering five men to the execution chamber as Donald Trump probably cackled while wearing a monocle, rubbing a cat and presumably whispering: “Yes, yes. Everything’s falling into place.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, led by President Trump’s handpicked attorney general, William Barr, issued a statement on Thursday resuming capital punishment, single-file lynchings for the first time in 16 years. While federal prosecutors still sometimes seek the death penalty, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) hasn’t executed an inmate since 2003, when Louis Jones Jr. was executed for the rape and murder of a female soldier.
Barr also directed the BOP to adopt an addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol, replacing the three-drug cocktail previously used in government-sanctioned homicides with a single drug, phenobarbital, which has been used to kill more than 200 prisoners in 14 states, according to the Department of Justice. The taxpayer-funded executioners will use the poison to execute five men whose exterminations were scheduled in accordance with Barr’s directive:
- Daniel Lewis Lee: A white supremacist convicted of murdering a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl. Lee’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 9, 2019.
- Lezmond Mitchell: Convicted of killing a 63-year-old grandmother and her 9-year-old granddaughter. Mitchell’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 11, 2019. He is Navajo.
- Wesley Ira Purkey: Sentenced to death for the rape, murder and dismemberment of a 16-year-old girl. Purkey’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 13, 2019. He is white.
- Alfred Bourgeois: Convicted for the molestation and murder of his 2-year-old daughter. Bourgeois’ execution is scheduled to occur on Jan. 13, 2020. He is black.
- Dustin Lee Honken: Convicted for killing five people, including two men who planned to testify against him, a single working mother and her 10-year-old and 6-year-old daughters, Honken’s execution is scheduled to occur on Jan. 15, 2020. He is white.
And if those people all sound worthy of death, you should know that, despite African Americans making up 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, 42 percent of the people on federal death row are black, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Death Penalty Information Center.
You should know that killing a white person is much more likely to result in the death penalty. Eighty-nine percent of black homicide victims are killed by black people. Eighty-one percent of white homicide victims are killed by white people, U.S. News reports. But since 1976, black people have been executed for killing white people at 14 times the rate of white people who have killed black people.
You should also know that Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he’d like drug dealers to receive the death penalty. The Centers for Disease Control found that the rate of illicit drug use is the same for whites and blacks, while the Hamilton Project found that African Americans are incarcerated for drugs almost three times more often than their white counterparts. Studies show that black people receive sentences that are much harsher than whites who commit the same crimes.
You should also remember the last person who was killed by the federal government.
In 1995, Louis Jones Jr., who is black, confessed to the rape and murder of 19-year-old Tracie McBride. Jones had no prior convictions. He fought in two wars, receiving commendations for his bravery and leadership. One of his missions included blowing up a plant where Iraqis were making dangerous chemical weapons. Jones retired from the Army with 22 years of service shortly after returning from the Gulf War.
During his trial, Jones presented evidence of Gulf War Syndrome and PTSD. His family said his personality totally changed after the war. Doctors said he had brain damage. Jones even said he knew he was “different” and begged for leniency.
It took a jury less than 65 minutes to send him to federal death row.
After his conviction, Jones kept fighting. Senators and politicians called for his sentence to be commuted. The doctor who published the first major study on Gulf War Syndrome said, in Jones’ appeal, that brain damage was “responsible for the personality changes that contributed significantly to the tragic events of his crime.” Jones’ original jurors even said that they were confused by the sentencing instructions.
But only one of the jurors said they believed Jones’ argument that he suffered some kind of brain malfunction. So in 1999, the Supreme Court declined to overturn Jones’ appeal, explaining that the federal government had “a strong interest in having the jury express the conscience of the community on the ultimate question of life or death.” His appeals exhausted, Jones was promptly moved to the Federal Bureau of Prison’s death row in Terre Haute, Ind.
They killed him anyway.
“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,” said Barr, during one of his 15-minute breaks from shielding Trump from our justice system.
Before you go into all that bullshit about “all men are created equal” and how the creator endowed us with the right to life, liberty and blah blah blah...please remember that Donald Trump said his favorite Bible verse taught him “an eye for an eye,” explaining:
That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us. And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.
Here is what the verse actually says:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. — Matthew 5: 38-39