By Julian Navarro
TERRE HAUTE, IN – Brandon Bernard was executed late last night here at the federal correctional center—one of six federal executions scheduled at the hand of President Trump in his waning days before leaving office. He’s already killed nine others during his four years.
Of those five individuals left to be killed by the Trump Administration, Lisa Montgomery is set to be the first woman in 70 years to be executed by the federal government. The other four, like Bernard, are Black men.
Alfred Bourgeois is next, due to be executed by lethal injection here Friday.
Bernard was 18 when a couple was killed in a gang robbery. But Bernard was only the driver, although he did light the couple’s car on fire. Both had already been shot in the head by the gang leader.
Celebrities appeal to Trump to stop the execution, a former warden of Bernard said he should be commuted because of his good conduct in prison, and five of the nine jurors who handed Bernard the death sentence said they regretted the verdict.
The federal death penalty has been a long, overdue issue that has plagued the country since it was reinstated back in 1988, according to Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MASS) and Roman Catholic Sister Helen Prejean, both advocates to end the death penalty.
“Murdering Brandon will only further the cycle of trauma and harm, it is another demonstration of the legacy of this country where we treat trauma with more trauma,” said Pressley, noting Bernard’s childhood was marked by poverty, physical, verbal abuse, trauma, homelessness, and chronic instability which can have devastating consequences on one’s health and wellness.
Pressley was adamant about ending the endless cycles of cruelty and trauma and expressed her admiration for all those individuals who were fighting to save the life of Brandon.
Rep. Pressley, talking about her proposed legislation to end the federal death penalty, said, “I have already been in contact with the Biden and Harris administration, lobbying them in hopes they will use the people justice…around their criminal justice reform.”
She added that Biden and Harris can end federal executions by executive action on day one of their administration and save the lives of those individuals who are awaiting execution.
Sister Helen stated, “Everyone on death row is poor. There is not a single person sentenced to death in this country who had money.”
She believes that the reason for this is that people with money get good lawyers and a prosecutor will think about it multiple time before ever seeking the death penalty and losing in public. But the poor are seen as disposable.
She said race plays a critical role in who gets the death penalty and who doesn’t. This especially true if the victim is white, said Sister Helen, adding “eight out every 10 is sentenced due to killing white people.
“For 17 years we haven’t had federal executions, until you get Trump.” She believes that Trump gets what he wants by using force and intimidation,” said Sister Helen.
Sister Helen describes the life of Lisa Montgomery, who lived a horrifying life where she was abused by her father and uncle. This led, Sister Helen said, Lisa down the wrong path where it was seen that she wasn’t mentally or emotionally herself.
According to Sister Helen, the only way to execute Lisa is if she is on her medication. If not, she isn’t mentally stable enough to be executed.
Rep. Pressley: “We are who are we as a society.”
Julian Navarro is a senior at Sacramento State majoring in Criminal Justice. He is from Half Moon Bay, California.
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