After a 17-year hiatus, the Trump administration resumed federal executions this summer. This, despite a coronavirus outbreak across U.S. prisons. On Thursday, the ninth death penalty of the year was carried out in Indiana.
What makes this series of executions unique is the timing. One has to go back to the Grover Cleveland administration - in the 1890s - when the last capital punishment was carried out during a lame-duck period.
Federal executions during a transfer of power in the nation's highest office are rare enough, particularly when transitioning from a proponent of the death penalty to a president-elect like Joe Biden who opposes capital punishment.
Brandon Bernard, a Texas street-gang member, received lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Center in Terre Haute last night and was pronounced dead at 9:27pm Eastern time. Bernard was convicted in the murder and abduction of a couple in Killeen, Texas in 1999. In a last-ditch effort, Bernard's lawyers filed papers with the Supreme Court but the request was denied, allowing the execution to proceed.
Four more federal executions, including one today, are set to be carried out before Inauguration Day.