In yet another early morning execution, The United States Government federally executed Dustin Higgs at 1:23AM EST, in Terre Haute, Indiana. There have now been thirteen federal executions carried out by the Trump Administration since July 2020. With less than a week before Inauguration, the death penalty’s arbitrary nature and the very few persons who seek to see its continuance have shown themselves.
Dustin Higgs maintained his innocence until his death, stating in his final words, "I'd like to say I am an innocent man," he said, mentioning the three women by name. "I did not order the murders.”
Statements from the victims’ families were stated and written. Most notably, the sister of Tanji Jackson, who stated, “They are now going to go through the pain we experienced,” the sister said about Higgs' family “When the day is over, your death will not bring my sister and the other victims back. This is not closure.”
Higgs' execution went forward despite his attorney, Shawn Nolan's appeal to delay the proceeding because of Higgs' Covid-19 diagnosis. Nolan also argued that Higgs was unfairly sentenced, the actual gunman is serving a life sentence, and that Maryland, where he was convicted, has since abolished the death penalty.
Statements from Dustin’s attorneys can be read here.
In every ruling from the US Supreme Court related to the federal executions, we have seen unprecedented levels of unconstitutionality and negation for the rule of law. In Mr. Higgs case, Justice Sotomayor slammed the US Supreme Court Justices ruling, stating in her dissent,
"After seventeen years without a single federal execution, the Government has executed twelve people since July. They are Daniel Lee, Wesley Purkey, Dustin Honken, Lezmond Mitchell, Keith Nelson, William LeCroy Jr., Christopher Vialva, Orlando Hall, Brandon Bernard, Alfred Bourgeois, Lisa Montgomery, and, just last night, Corey Johnson," Sotomayor wrote. "Today, Dustin Higgs will become the thirteenth."
"The Court made these weighty decisions in response to emergency applications, with little opportunity for proper briefing and consideration, often in just a few short days or even hours," Sotomayor said. "Very few of these decisions offered any public explanation for their rationale."
"This is not justice."
"this Court has repeatedly sidestepped its usual deliberative processes, often at the Government's request, allowing it to push forward with an unprecedented, breakneck timetable of executions."
"Those whom the Government executed during this endeavor deserved more from this Court," Sotomayor said. "I respectfully dissent."
Since the resumption of federal executions in July 2020, countless opponents of the death penalty have worked tirelessly to stop this wave of federal executions and bring light to the injustices occurring within our prison and court systems. Despite these federal executions, America’s death penalty is in decline, with 34 states having already abolished or are on a moratorium, with no executions for ten or more years. Where the death penalty persists is in our own backyard. With Missouri being just one of a handful of states that actively executes, we must persist.
Over the coming year, we ask all to continue to join us, for it is far from over for individuals living under death sentences in Missouri. To learn more about efforts to abolish the death penalty in Missouri, please visit www.madpmo.org and join us on January 22, at 12:30 PM CST, for our first statewide Monthly Meet-up.