WASHINGTON – In the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s term, his administration intends to execute three inmates on federal death row, the last scheduled executions by the Justice Department before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has signaled he will end federal use of capital punishment.
Since July, when it resumed carrying out the death penalty after a 17-year hiatus, the Trump administration has executed seven federal inmates. Weeks before Biden is sworn in, the three inmates face the prospect of being the last federal prisoners to die by capital punishment for at least as long as he remains in office.
Orlando Cordia Hall, 49, convicted in the brutal death of a teenage girl, is scheduled to be executed Thursday. Two others prisoners are to be executed in December, including Lisa M. Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row.
Biden has pledged to eliminate the death penalty. His campaign promised to work to pass legislation to end capital punishment on the federal level and incentivize states to follow suit.
Before the Trump administration resumed executions, only three people had been executed by the federal government in the past 50 years, according to Bureau of Prisons data.
Biden came under criticism during the Democratic primary campaign for his role in passing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Among other provisions, the bill expanded the crimes eligible for the federal death penalty.
Like most of those on federal death row, the three inmates awaiting execution were all convicted under a part of the violent crime bill known as the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, according to Robert C. Owen, a lawyer representing two of those scheduled for execution.