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Ahead of his official exit from the White House, President Donald Trump has scheduled five executions to take place before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
It breaks a 130-year precedent in which executions are delayed until later during a presidential transition.
If all five executions go ahead, Trump would have overseen the execution of 13 death row inmates since July, making him the US’s most prolific execution president in more than 100 years.
The executions are set to begin this week with 40-year-old Brandon Bernard and 56-year-old Alfred Bourgeois. Both inmates are scheduled to be put to death at a penitentiary in Indiana, the report says.
The other inmates facing execution are Lisa Montgomery, Cory Johnson, and Dustin John Higgs.
The decision is particularly contentious given that Joe Biden has said that he will seek to end the death penalty in the US once he takes office.
Biden’s team has long opposed the death penalty, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris being a vocal critic of the practice.
In 2003, she took a stand against the death penalty in the murder of a 29-year-old police officer.
Attorney General William Barr said his justice department is simply upholding existing law.
Barr told the Associated Press that he would likely schedule more executions before he leaves the Justice Department.
‘I think the way to stop the death penalty is to repeal the death penalty. But if you ask juries to impose it, then it should be carried out,’ he said.
Ngozi Ndulue, director of research at the non-partisan Death Penalty Information Center, said Trump’s decision is ‘really outside the norm, in a pretty extreme way’.
‘We’d have to go back to 1896 to find another year where there were 10 or more executions,’ Ndulue added.