The Trump administration is pushing forward with plans to execute five federal death row inmates, all convicted of killing children in separate crimes.
The guilt of Danny Lee, Lezmond Mitchell, Wesley Ira Purkey, Alfred Bourgeois and Dustin Lee Honken is established. They had fair trials and ongoing opportunities for appeal.
Saying he wanted to move ahead with capital punishment and was looking for people convicted of attacking the most vulnerable in society, Attorney General William Barr instructed the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to begin the executions starting in December. That ends an unofficial moratorium that dates to the Obama administration, although the potential for additional appeals will determine whether anyone is actually put to death.
Lee, the first of the killers scheduled to die, is from Yukon. He was convicted in the 1996 deaths of an Arkansas family as part of a plot to set up a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest, according to The Associated Press.
Two of the other 57 people on federal death row are there for crimes committed in Oklahoma — killers Kenneth Eugene Barrett and Edward Fields.
Barr plans to use a new method of execution for the prisoners, an overdose of a single drug, pentobarbital. Previously, the federal government had used a three-drug cocktail similar to the method used by Oklahoma for years. That method of execution went horribly wrong in the state’s 2014 execution of killer Clayton Lockett. Oklahoma has executed only one prisoner since then as the Department of Corrections and the Legislature reconsider methods and policies.
We won’t offer any defense for the men facing execution. The crimes committed by the condemned criminals are violent and depraved. They all earned their way to death row.
Most Oklahomans are comfortable with capital punishment, so long as it can be carried out in a constitutional fashion, which means that the accused get the full benefit of due process and the method of execution is not cruel or unusual. That’s a high standard, as it should be, and the whole world will be watching to see if Barr can meet it.
Planning the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre history center