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SCOTUS rules federal executions are back on UPDATE: Lewis executed

UPDATE: (Jazz) The remaining question earlier this morning that I referenced below was when the government would get around to executing Daniel Lewis Lee once the Supreme Court cleared the way. It turns out that we didn’t have to wait long to find out. Lee was executed and pronounced dead at 8:07 eastern time this morning. He continued to proclaim his innocence until the end.

Original article continues below.

The last inmate to be executed by the federal government was Louis Jones Jr, in 2003 for the rape and murder of Private Tracie McBride. Two years earlier, both Timothy McVeigh and Juan Raul Garza shuffled off this mortal coil via lethal injection for obvious reasons. Since then, federal implementation of capital punishment has gone dormant, though a number of convicts have been assigned the death penalty and run out of appeals in the meantime.

President Trump promised last year that the death penalty would resume at the federal level, but the court cases involved for most of these prisoners have been held up on one technicality or another since then. But as of last night, that appears to be about to change. The Supreme Court issued a late-night 5-4 ruling, saying that the plaintiffs had failed to make their case and the execution of triple-murderer Daniel Lewis Lee can proceed. Several others are in the queue on Death Row and are scheduled for execution in the coming couple of weeks. (BBC)

Several executions were delayed after a judge ruled on Monday that there were still unresolved legal challenges against the justice department.

Among those facing the death penalty is triple murderer Daniel Lewis Lee, who was due to be executed on Monday.

The condemned prisoners have argued that lethal injections constitute “cruel and unusual punishments”.

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 that “executions may proceed as planned”.

Assuming nothing else happens at the 11th hour, Lee’s execution should move forward, though a new date and time hasn’t been set yet. But as mentioned above, Lee isn’t the only one up for their date with mortality.

Wesley Ira Purkey has been on death row in Missouri since 2003. He was convicted of the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. Following the killing, he dismembered and burned the body before dumping her in a septic pond. He is scheduled to be executed tomorrow.

Dustin Lee Honken was convicted in 2004 for shooting and killing five people. The victims included two young girls, aged six and ten. Assuming no more appeals are allowed, he’s set to go under the needle on Friday. Following Honken, we have Keith Dwayne Nelson. He was given the death penalty in Missouri in 2001 for raping and murdering a 10-year-old girl. Adding to that horror show was the fact that the atrocity was committed behind a church. Nelson’s date with destiny is scheduled for some time in August.

This is always a difficult subject for many people and understandably so. I completely understand and sympathize with those who feel that there is never a justifiable cause for the government to end someone’s life from the moment of conception until they reach their natural end of life. While I find the prospect unsettling myself, however, there just seem to be certain crimes that cry out for a terminal solution such as this. The rogue’s gallery I mentioned above fall into that general category.

Some will argue that the death penalty doesn’t act as a sufficient deterrent for other prospective killers, though I would counter by saying that self-preservation is a powerful inherited trait in humans. The knowledge that you may wind up in the execution chamber surely must deter at least some would-be killers. And, as always, it’s worth noting that the recidivism rate for those who are successfully executed remains fixed at zero.

None of this is to say that we don’t need to be as careful as possible when making these decisions. Cases built against those accused of such heinous deeds have to be absolutely airtight because you don’t get a do-over once the sentence is carried out. Hopefully, advances in both law enforcement and security technology along with appropriately robust appeals processes can eliminate cases where the wrongly accused are put to death. As far as I’m concerned, if we haven’t reached 100% certainty of guilt (which is certainly possible when video and/or an abundance of physical evidence and reliable testimony is available) then life in prison without parole is the preferable option. At least in that case, exoneration is still a possibility down the line if new, compelling evidence of innocence comes to light.

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