WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is against the death penalty and will work to end its use, his spokesman said Saturday, as the Justice Department scheduled three more federal executions during before the Jan. 20 inauguration, including two shortly before he is set to take office.
The Bureau of Prisons on Thursday carried out the eighth federal execution this year, after a 17-year hiatus, and it is likely to increase pressure on Biden decide whether his administration would continue to schedule executions once he is sworn in. Advocacy groups have called on the Trump administration to pause all executions until Biden takes office.
Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future,” press secretary TJ Ducklo said. He did not say whether executions would be paused immediately once Biden takes office.
Federal executions resumed this year despite the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 250,000 people and is raging inside the nation’s prison systems. This year, the Justice Department has put to death more people than during the previous half-century, despite waning public support from both Democrats and Republicans for its use.
In a court filing Friday night, the department said it was scheduling the executions of Alfred Bourgeois for Dec. 11 and Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs for Jan. 14 and 15. Two other executions had been scheduled for this year, including the first woman set to be executed by the federal government in about six decades. But on Thursday, a federal judge ruled that execution could not proceed before the end of the year.