Lawyers, activists and medical professionals attempted to delay the executions until after the pandemic
The flood of federal executions that occurred in the last days of the Trump administration were potential coronavirus super spreader events, according to new analysis from the Associated Press.
Inmate infections increased after the executions of Alfred Bourgeois on Dec. 11 and Brandon Bernard on Dec. 10, and by Dec. 20, at least 33 prisoners on death row had tested positive for the deadly disease.
#BrandonBernard your last letter finally got to me….it’s heartbreaking.I wish you would be still here.😢I miss you every day! I love you so much,I promise you,imma see you again, whenever my time is ready!♥️@helpsavebrandon thanks for the help always! #RestinpeaceBrandonBernard pic.twitter.com/Ivt8FDqmIH
— just me MJ 🦋 (@jnybxx) February 4, 2021
Not limited to inmates, the virus also spread among execution support staff, witnesses and a business professor at Indiana University — Yusuf Ahmed Nur — who practices Islam.
Nur, who acted as a spiritual advisor for Orlando Cordia Hall, who was executed Nov. 19, tested positive for the virus just days later, according to the ACLU.
“I knew when I went to Orlando’s execution that I was stepping into a high-risk environment,” Nur wrote. “Prisons are petri dishes for COVID-19, and executions only add to the risk because they draw hundreds of people who travel from across the country, including correctional and Department of Justice staff, family members of the victim and the accused, lawyers, and press.”
Still can't stop thinking about how the Trump administration executed 13 people in the final months of his term. More federal executions than the previous 67 years combined. It was a level of depravity that I'm still struggling to wrap my head around.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) February 4, 2021
Nur went on to say that when Hall asked him to stand at his deathbed to conduct the rites of passage and bring him comfort through their shared faith, he could not deny him. “I could not say no to a man who would soon be killed. The tenants of my faith demanded as much. Helping him was more important than the risk to myself.”
The majority of federal death row inmates are confined at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Statistics from the Bureau of Prisons show that since the start of the pandemic, roughly 726 inmates at the facility have tested positive for the virus from a population of around 1,200.
Lawyers, activists and medical professionals had attempted to delay the executions until after the pandemic had passed, American Medical Association CEO James Madara said in a letter last month to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“These are the type of high-risk super spreader events that the (American Medical Association) and (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have been warning against throughout the pandemic,” Madara wrote.
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