Brandon Bernard Executed Under the Death Penalty

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Brandon Bernard, age 40, was put to death by the United States federal government on Dec. 10, 2020According to the Bureau of Prisons, Bernard was executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1999, Bernard was convicted of murdering Stacie and Todd Bagley, youth ministers who resided in Texas. Bernard did not act alone in the killings of the Bagleys; he was accompanied by five other gang members. Bernard was imprisoned when he was 18 years old.  

Bernard’s case has become an issue of public concern. Senior Tess Rechtweg commented, “No one should be killed for a crime, especially one where they were only an accomplice. [Bernard] should have been in jail but receiving the death penalty for a crime he did not commit is absolutely disgusting. From what I understand, he made incredible gains from his time in prison, which should have allowed him to get his death sentence repealed.” 

It is a municipal case, and celebrities and politicians argued with the government to bring mercy for Bernard. Kim Kardashian West, a reality television star and influencer, wished for President Donald Trump to grant a commutation to spare Bernard’s life, as she stated, “I believe in my heart of hearts killing him isn’t right. This just had to change.” Rechtweg also attempted to fight for Bernard’s cause: “I called the Department of Justice three or four times within 24 hours leading up to his death. The system failed Brandon Bernard. A man should not be put to death.” Attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, members of Bernard’s legal team, pleaded with the Supreme Court by filling out a petition asking to delay the execution for 14 days. The Supreme Court ignored the request.  

Websites were created, petitions were signed, and images were posted. Bernard’s case has not only become an argument of the death penaltybut it has also become a part of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Black Lives Matter Twitter account posted: “Abolish the death penalty in the name of Brandon Bernard, who sat in death row for 20 years.”  

Bernard’s execution brings the topic of the death penalty to the public eye. Elizabeth Di Fiore, a junior, shared her feelings: “The death penalty is obviously a controversial topic today. I am not in favor of the death penalty because I believe that no human should decide the fate of another person’s life. Execution is a waste of U.S. federal tax dollars. On the other hand, just because some believe the death penalty is wrong does not mean criminals and murderers should be glorified. By glorifying people on death row, sending them praises, we are in fact allowing the younger generation to see convicted criminals on pedestals instead of showing the reasoning behind their sentence. A worse punishment would be to live behind bars contemplating actions and suffering the true consequences.