More Planned Executions

The federal government continues to press forward with executions despite growing outcry from various segments of society. The death penalty is inhumane and unjust. There are five executions scheduled between now and January 20, 2021, four of the people set to be executed are black men. One of the men is Brandon Bernard.

When he was 18 years old, Bernard was a low level gang member. He was told to help get rid of evidence from a crime involving two ministers. Christopher Vialva, another gang member, was the actual murder. Vialva was execrated in September. The younger, and less involved Bernard, was involved in the crime at least in part because of his fear of older gang members such as Vialva.

Years later five of the jurors who voted for Bernard to be put to death are now calling for clemency. At least one of those jurors describes being haunted by his decision and has begun providing information to Bernard’s lawyers. the juror, Gary McClung, never thought Bernard intended for anyone to die. He also thinks Bernard was too young at the time of his crime to be put to death. The former jury foreman, Calvin Kruger, feels the same.

Angela Moore, the former United States Attorney who defended his death sentence on appeal, now also opposes Mr. Bernard’s execution. She notes how young he was, 18 years old, and that science has since shown how human’s brains are not fully developed at that age.

People who know Brandon Bernard these days describe man who is kind and remorseful. A person who has adjusted well to prison and works in outreach programs to prevent other youth from getting into trouble with the law. There is never a justification for the death penalty and Brandon Bernard is no exception.

In California the fight against capital punishment continues. Several years ago a court held the California death penalty unconstitutional. Governor Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium against the death penalty in the state of California in March 2019.

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