Recent Execution Calls for Change

Ashna Gupta’ 21

Brandon Bernard was executed by lethal injection on December 10th, 2020 at 9:27 a.m. over a crime he committed as an accomplice to murder when he was an adolescent. Brandon’s case received much controversy and attention from the media, politicians, and citizens, notably Kim Kardashian, a reality star and aspiring lawyer who wants President Trump to grant Bernard commutation. [1] The Black Lives Matter movement also critized the Death Penalty as “historically targeting black and brown families.” [2] This tragic event brought about scrutiny from many on the institution of the American Justice system as unjust. 

One day following Brandon’s execution, another execution was scheduled for Alfred Bourgeois, yet another black man. [3] The resumption of federal executions, especially during a pandemic, has caused much civil unrest amongst protesters looking for equality and  humanity within their country’s justice system. Many have cited that, since 1973, over 156 inmates have been released from the death penalty after proving their innocence, showing the prevalence of wrongful convictions. [4] 

The upcoming executions, particularly the one of Dustin Higgs, are becoming extremely high profile, and their cases are being monitored more closely than ever by the media and citizens. These recent events have sparked a movement to sign petitions and send letters to Trump requesting that he stop the scheduled executions. There have also been petitions imploring Joe Biden and Congress to remove capital punishment altogether in the next year.