The Trump administration successfully fought to resume federal executions following a 17-year hiatus and has executed seven prisoners in 2020 so far, with three more, scheduled by year’s end. Nearly every one of those cases has been characterized as an “extreme” death penalty case, including the execution of the sole Native American on federal death row, over the objections of his tribe, for murders of fellow tribe members committed on tribal lands, reported the Washington Post.
Trump’s preference for harsh punishment predates his life in politics; in 1989, he took out full-page ads calling for the return of the death penalty after the arrest of the Central Park Five — and decades later refused to apologize after they were exonerated. As president, he has praised dictators such as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for executing drug dealers and proposed the death penalty for people who sell opioids.
President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, has made eliminating the death penalty part of his criminal justice platform, a move that breaks from his past support for the death penalty and makes him the first Democratic presidential candidate or president-elect to take a consummately anti-death penalty stance since Michael Dukakis in 1988.
Representatives for Biden did not return requests for comment, but Biden has most recently said he supports ending the death penalty through legislation and incentivizing the remaining death penalty states to do the same.
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