The following commentary, written by NAACP-LDF president Sherrilyn Ifill, is a plea for the life of Brandon Bernard—who is set to be executed tonight by the Trump Administration—in yet another case where the conviction was based on apparent prosecutorial misconduct within America’s racist criminal justice system.
On July 14, 2020, the federal government carried out the first federal execution in nearly 20 years when it put Daniel Lewis to death.
It was the first of three executions by the U.S. government within four days. Since then, two more people were executed in August, two in September, and another, Orlando Cordia Hall, just last month.
In the first 20 years of this century, three people were executed by the U.S. government. Eight have been executed by the Trump Administration in the last six months.
Today, Brandon Bernard is scheduled to be executed – one of five the Administration has scheduled between now and the end of President Trump’s term in office.
This evening, as the world observes Human Rights Day, the Trump Administration is set to execute Brandon Bernard over the objections of the majority of jurors in his trial, and 23 prosecutors, and despite the fact that critical evidence was withheld that would have fundamentally undermined the prosecution’s case for death.
The Administration has, in fact, scheduled five executions before its time in office ends next month – including four Black men and the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government in almost 70 years.
LDF has long opposed the death penalty.
Our founder, Thurgood Marshall, defended many Black men who had been sentenced to death in the Jim Crow South, and since that time we have represented multiple people on death row. Numerous innocent people have been executed due to this nation’s discriminatory and severely flawed criminal justice system, as well as because of human error.
This must end.
Since 1963, the U.S. government has executed a total of 11 people. The Trump Administration, after reinstating the federal death penalty this summer, has executed eight of those 11 in the last six months alone.
Now, in an effort to advance a political agenda, the administration is rushing to take the lives of five additional people before President-Elect Biden, who has expressed opposition to the death penalty, can be sworn into office.
LDF calls on the courts to halt the execution of Mr. Bernard and on the federal government to put an end to this unconstitutional, discriminatory, and inhumane form of punishment once and for all. It is a practice that should have been abolished long ago.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, is President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Editor’s Note: One again, here we have a story underscoring the racist nature of America’s legal system. How can authorites execute a man under such circumstances–where numerous jurors are saying an injustice has been done? How can a blind eye be turned to the repeated instances of apparent prosecutorial misconduct that send generations of Black people to prison–like Mr. Bernard?
We often hear supposedly “small government” Republicans lecturing us about the “sancity of life,” when they are telling us about how evil abortion is. But these same “pro-life” hypocrites support state-sanctioned murder under the guise of “law and order.” Those who want to spare the life of Brandon Bernard should check here and here.