Campaigners Warn Trump’s Return Could Trigger Record-Breaking Execution Spree in U.S. Federal Prisons

Campaigners Warn Trump’s Return Could Trigger Record-Breaking Execution Spree in U.S. Federal Prisons

Campaigners against capital punishment are raising alarms about the possibility of Donald Trump resuming federal executions if he is re-elected.

This concern stems from his previous term when he oversaw a rapid series of executions. If Trump returns to the White House, it is feared that he could initiate the “largest federal civilian execution spree” in U.S. history.

Current Status: Biden’s Moratorium

President Joe Biden, who has been openly opposed to the death penalty, introduced a moratorium on federal executions during his presidency.

This halt in executions has left 40 prisoners on federal death row at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Despite Biden’s campaign promise to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, the moratorium remains a temporary measure that Trump could easily overturn.

Trump’s First Term: A Flurry of Executions

In the final six months of his first term, Trump authorized 13 federal executions, the first since 2003.

This included three executions after the 2020 election, marking the first time since Grover Cleveland’s presidency in 1889 that an outgoing president carried out federal executions.

Trump’s swift and numerous executions were unprecedented, making him the president with the highest number of federal executions since Franklin Roosevelt.

Advocacy and Proposals: Potential Second Term Actions

A document titled “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise,” prepared by Project 25, outlines potential actions for a future Trump administration.

It includes a chapter on the Justice Department advocating for the enforcement of the death penalty, emphasizing the need for finality for prisoners on federal death row.

Trump has expressed strong support for the death penalty, even advocating for it as a punishment for drug dealers.

High-Profile Cases: Examples from Trump’s First Term

During Trump’s first term, notable executions included Brandon Bernard, who was executed for his role in a 1999 double murder, despite being 18 at the time of the crime.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West had appealed to Trump to commute Bernard’s sentence, citing his remorse.

Additionally, Lisa Montgomery became the first woman executed by the federal government in nearly seven decades for a brutal crime involving the murder of an expectant mother.

Public Sentiment: Shifts in Death Penalty Support

Public opinion on the death penalty has shifted significantly over the years. Support for the death penalty for convicted murderers has dropped from 80 percent in 1994 to 53 percent in recent years, according to Gallup polling.

For the first time, a Gallup poll revealed that more Americans believe the death penalty is applied unfairly than fairly.

This shift in public sentiment could influence the debate if Trump makes the death penalty a focal point of his campaign.

Expert Opinions: Calls for Commutation

Robert Dunham, Director of the Death Penalty Policy Project, has urged President Biden to commute all federal death sentences to life without parole if he loses the upcoming election. Dunham argues that failing to do so could make Biden complicit in a potential execution spree under a second Trump administration. He emphasizes the moral imperative for Biden to act, warning that his legacy could be marred by inaction.

Conclusion: The Future of the Death Penalty

The death penalty has not been a major issue in presidential races since 1988, but it could resurface prominently if Trump is re-elected.

With the potential for a significant increase in federal executions, the debate over capital punishment may become a crucial issue in the upcoming election.

The actions of the next president will have profound implications for the future of the death penalty in the United States.

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