Misuse of the Death Penalty

Establishing an horrific new precedent

Photo by Mahbube Baqeri on Unsplash

Pardon me for doing it this way, but I must open with an off-topic note.

Donald Trump is no longer President of the United States and he never will be again.

He is currently being used by Conservatives as a totem to gather forces around other potential candidates and for the purposes of raising money in future endeavors. He is also being used by some on the Left as a target of derision. For myself and others he is nothing more than a permanent scar upon our history.

Aside from the obvious fact that he is a real presence in history and must remain so, my personal opinion is that we should do everything possible to limit all references to him, otherwise.

This is, however, not an instance where that will be possible.

During his term in office, and particularly towards the end of that term, Donald Trump and his Attorney General, William Barr, skirted the US justice system in many ways that chill knowledgeable Americans. Many do not care. Many are unaware. Some are very much in favor of what they did.

But many who may have supported some of these actions, if they knew what took place, might still question what occurred in light of how these actions could have an effect upon their own lives in the near future.

One very important case in point is the manner in which the criminal justice system was manipulated and in particular how it was abused in terms of the death penalty. In many instances, inmates on Federal death row were executed on the President’s order while their appeals were pending.

Let me repeat that:

In many instances, inmates on Federal death row were executed on the President’s order while their appeals were pending.

At no time in modern US history had this ever taken place and at no time in our history had it ever taken place on purpose.

The death penalty, by executive order, is the ultimate authoritarian power. When used extra-judicially in this manner it becomes an autocratic power. When used repetitively, as was done during the Trump administration, it establishes not only a pattern but a precedent.

Unless these actions are publicly examined and excoriated; unless those who enacted these actions are held accountable for them — namely Mr. Trump, Mr. Barr and whomever else may have been involved in the Bureau of Prisons — they are potentially liable to be repeated.

Anyone — ANYONE — held in a federal prison, or perhaps in a state prison, on charges of capital crimes, may be executed without appeal. Without full justice under our current system of law.

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of many things straightforward and strange. Some of them appear here. “Women zai shuo ba” as the Mandarin say. Born 2016.

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