The U.S. government executed Orlando Hall Nov. 19, the eighth federal inmate to be put to death over the past four months. The Justice Department resumed use of this barbaric punishment after a 17-year break, as increasing numbers of workers oppose its use. Two additional executions have been scheduled over the next two months.
Hall, 49, who is Black, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering 16-year-old Lisa Rene in Arkansas in 1994. At the time he was involved in a marijuana trafficking operation there.
A district judge issued a stay temporarily blocking Hall’s execution Nov. 19, but the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and overturned it. Hall’s attorneys urged the justices to rule the government shouldn’t rush to execute a federal prisoner in the middle of a pandemic that makes it difficult for him to work with his legal team and apply for clemency.
All federal executions take place by lethal injection of the drug pentobarbital at the prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. The drug attacks the brain and central nervous system and is also used to euthanize animals.
“Take care of yourself,” said Hall in his last words. “Tell my kids I love them.” None of the others involved in the smuggling operation were executed. Three of them, including Hall’s brother, cooperated with prosecutors. Another, Bruce Webster, had a death sentence revoked, on grounds of his being intellectually disabled.
The U.S. capitalist rulers use capital punishment to intimidate working people by showing them the brutal tools they have — and will use — against workers who mount resistance to boss and government assaults.
In fact, despite an international outcry, exactly 105 years ago on Nov. 19, 1915, the state of Utah executed Joe Hill by firing squad. Hill was a well-known labor organizer, songwriter and member of the Industrial Workers of the World the authorities framed up on baseless murder charges.
The Justice Department is moving ahead with plans to execute Brandon Bernard Dec. 10. He was convicted of involvement in the murder of two youth ministers in Texas in 1999 when he was just 18 years old.
The execution of Lisa Montgomery, who would be the first woman put to death by the federal government in nearly 70 years, has been pushed back to at least Dec. 31. A U.S. district judge ruled that since Montgomery’s longtime lawyers had become infected with coronavirus after visiting her in prison, they should be granted time to recover to prepare her clemency application.