Bill Barr Turns On The Execution Machine

5 min readJul 27, 2019
Ken Piorkowski [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

So Bill Barr has ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to start scheduling executions again. This article on Vox covers the political and logistical points very well. A quick search on the topic will yield numerous points and counterpoints on the subject of the death penalty.

I find this event notable for the quiet conflict within the administration that few are talking about. On the one hand, Trump has nominated two Supreme Court Justices that are primed for overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case that made abortions legal up to 20 weeks. We just know that Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are waiting for that one case, ripe for the picking, as abortion laws written out of supreme spite will eventually make their way to the high court. Those abortion laws claim that every life is precious.

On the other hand, this turn in the Trump Administration says that not every life is so precious. As the Justice Department and the Bureau of Prisons start teeing up executions, I wonder if they considered this quandary. How can every life be precious yet it’s OK to execute someone for a heinous crime?

No doubt that the first five inmates scheduled for execution have been accused and convicted of terrible crimes. All were convicted of multiple murders with aggravation. If the point of prison is to make the villain suffer, has anyone in the Trump Administration stopped to consider that death ends all suffering?

Each one of those inmates has been suffering in prison for years, thinking about what they did, with recurring nightmares about what they did. Maybe they even spent time considering the possibility that they could have made a choice to do something else on that fateful day that they committed their horrible, horrible crimes? Isn’t that suffering enough? But if you end their lives, well, that’s the end of their suffering for sure.

Now some “believers” may say that those inmates will go to Hell upon death. It is one thing to say that a murderer will go to hell upon his or her death. It is quite another to be the one to decide who goes to hell. And as far I know, there is only one entity in Christian mythology with the power to make that decision. That would be God. And He did say something like, well, He’s been quoted to say that, “Vengeance is…