Federal Death Penalty After 17 Years
Yesterday, Daniel Lewis Lee became the first person executed by the federal government in 17 years following an all-night legal battle. He was pronounced dead at 8:07 am EDT.
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Lee’s execution (originally scheduled for 4 pm Monday afternoon) were nothing short of abhorrent. The Department of Justice evaded legal challenges regarding its execution protocol, dismissed concerns of COVID-19 infection risks, and ignored the victims’ relatives’ objections to the execution. In the dark of the night, they kept Mr. Lee strapped to a gurney for four hours awaiting his lethal dose of pentobarbital.
This execution was unnecessary and avoidable. This move by the federal government—conveniently set in advance of a presidential election—makes clear its perspective on the primacy of retribution and fear.
As heavy as this execution weighs on us, it is important to remember that federal executions are still a looming threat. Wesley Ira Purkey is at risk of execution today, July 15, with the execution of Dustin Lee Honken to follow on July 17.