Does the Death Penalty Bring Justice for Victims and Their Families?


The Trump administration is moving forward with executing a record 13 people. Will this accomplish what it hopes?

Last week the Trump administration carried out its 9th and 10th federal execution of 2020. On Wednesday night, the state executed a 40-year-old man, Brandon Bernard.

According to the AP, “when Bernard was 18 he and four other teenagers abducted and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley on their way from a Sunday service in Killeen, Texas, during which Bernard doused their car with lighter fluid and set it on fire with their bodies in the back trunk.”

Bernard’s death comes several months after the Justice Department surfaced a proposal to “reintroduce firing squads and electrocutions for federal executions, giving the government more options for administering capital punishment as drugs used in lethal injections become unavailable.”

Last Friday, the government executed Alfred Bourgeois, who has an intellectual disability, which should have meant he could not have been up for the death penalty. But Bourgeois’s trial lawyers did not present evidence of his intellectual disability to the jury. He was the 17th person executed in the united states this year, and the country’s last scheduled execution for 2020.

This week on Quick to Listen, we wanted to discuss how to wrestle with the death penalty, accountability, justice, and forgiveness from someone who has straddled many sides of this situation.

Jeanne Bishop, a felony trial attorney in the Office of the Cook County Public Defender in Chicago. She is the author of Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer and Grace From the Rubble: Two Fathers’ Road to Reconciliation After the Oklahoma City Bombing. Bishop joined global media manager Morgan Lee and editorial director Ted Olsen to discuss how her work and …

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