source: IBA News
published: December 2018
On 25 July, US Attorney General Thomas Barr announced that the federal government would resume executions of those who have been sentenced to death – designating five men on federal death row to be killed by lethal injection in December and January, for the first time since 2003.
Evan Mandery, author of A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America, is flummoxed as to what the Trump administration is trying to achieve, because virtually all criminologists agree that the death penalty has no deterrent effect. ‘I don’t think it’s even achieving symbolic ends, because what it symbolises is not obvious to anyone,’ he says. ‘I guess in a broad sense it’s consistent with the President’s overall message of intolerance.’
Donald Trump has been an outspoken proponent of capital punishment since he called for the execution of the five black teens falsely accused of raping the ‘Central Park jogger’ in 1989. Last year, the President called for executing drug dealers, and proudly gave credit for the idea to China’s Xi Jinping.
The ‘Death Row Five’ of 2019 appear to be chosen, at least in part, for political messaging. All killed children in gruesome ways. The first to be executed is a white nationalist, and none are black or Latino. Of the 57 men who will remain on federal death row, a majority are black or Latino.