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Trump Admin. Set to Continue 'Superspreader Executions' With Sixth State-Sanctioned Killing

"The government's rush to kill has caused senseless risk for incarcerated people, prison staff, and everyone who lives in Terre Haute, Indiana."

Protesters stand near an intersection not far from the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex to protest where death row inmate Wesley Ira Purkey was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection.

Protesters stand near an intersection not far from the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex to protest where death row inmate Wesley Ira Purkey was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection. (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The U.S. government is set to continue a string of recent federal executions with the scheduled killing of William LeCroy on Tuesday—a day after the ACLU blamed the Trump administration's "rush to kill" for an outbreak of Covid-19 at the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana.

LeCroy would be the sixth person the administration has put to death after Attorney General William Barr announced the return of the federal death penalty after a 17-year hiatus. The government is using a new single-drug protocol, despite human rights concerns, after a three-year effort to establish a supply chain for pentobarbital.

LeCroy, who was convicted of rape and murder, will face the death chamber at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute. It is the same facility that's already seen five executions this summer and where two inmates died last week from Covid-19.

The ACLU, citing documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and related to the recent executions there, said the state-sanctioned killings have amounted to "superspreader" events.

The civil rights group said in a statement Monday that the documents from the Bureau of Prisons show, among other things, that a prison staff member involved in the execution preparations had tested positive for Covid-19 days before the first federal execution mid-July.

What's more, the information shows contract-tracing and coronavirus testing have been insufficient at the penitentiary and the facility has exhibited "recklessness [that] has resulted in severe illness and death." The documents show that there were 11 Covid-19 positive cases before the July execution, but there were over 200 people—a likely under-count—with Covid-19 positive cases at the complex on September 18.

"The newly disclosed data from the Bureau of Prisons shows the total inadequacy of its efforts to uncover Covid-19 infections among staff and prisoners—and why the true number of infections is likely much higher than the alarming number of cases reported on its website," said Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project.

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The two deaths at the prison last week, said Stubbs, "were part of a larger outbreak in the wake of the federal government's decision to carry out an unprecedented number of executions there these past few months during a deadly pandemic."

"The government's rush to kill has caused senseless risk for incarcerated people, prison staff, and everyone who lives in Terre Haute, Indiana," she added.

Another federal execution is set for Thursday at the Terre Haute facility.

Like LeCroy, Christopher Andre Vialva—convicted of killing a couple when he was 19—is scheduled to die by lethal injection.

"I'm not making this plea as an innocent man," Vialva said in a statement to media shared by his lawyers earlier this month. "But I am a changed and redeemed man."

"I committed a grave wrong when I was a lost kid and took two precious lives from this world," he said. "Every day I wish I could right this wrong."

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