The Permanence of the Death Penalty

12/28/20

I’ve been struggling to come up with something to say about #45’s execution orders. It’s super fucked up that if somehow these people could get a stay of execution for just a month that they would live longer. But at the same time that doesn’t actually mean they would never be executed. Democrats allow and utilize the death penalty too. The only reason this is getting press is because the Democrats are using it as one more thing to demonize #45. If these executions were occurring under the watch of an outgoing Democrat President then I doubt it would get even a tenth the attention.

The lack of media attention on state sponsored crimes against incarcerated people is super messed up in and of itself. Case in point, there has been very little coverage regarding the immigration detention centers Obama built where so many people die from abuse, violence and neglect. But that’s another story for another time.

Even if Biden pledged to not authorize any federal executions, there is no guarantee that the next President after him (most likely Vice-Prosecutor Kamala Harris) won’t be perfectly comfortable with state sponsored murder. The problem is bigger than #45, it’s the punitive criminal justice system itself.

If the death penalty was brought to an end tomorrow, everyone on death row would, most likely, have their sentence deferred to life without the possibility of parole. which is still a sentence of “die in prison”. This is because the ACLU (and other similar organizations) has for decades used rhetoric claiming that life in prison is a humane alternative to the death penalty, a move which has served to legitimize carceral logics and stymy attempts to get rid of life without parole and lower mandatory minimums.

Like I said at the top, I’m really struggling with coming up with something impactful about these executions. I feel like this is yet another situation which is just so fucked up that all we can do is name the dead and speak truth to power as best we can.

Already executed:
Daniel Lee
Wesley Purkey
Dustin Honken
Lezmond Mitchell
Keith Nelson
William LeCroy
Christopher Vialva
Orlando Hall
Brandon Bernard
Alfred Bourgeois

Still to be executed on January 12, 2021:
Lisa Montgomery
Cory Johnson
Dustin Higgs

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