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Trump’s Killing Spree: The Inside Story of His Race to Execute Every Prisoner He Could

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Before 2020, there had been three federal executions in 60 years. Then Trump put 13 people to death in six months IN THE FINAL moments of Brandon Bernard’s life, before he was executed by lethal injection at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Dec. 10, 2020, President Donald Trump picked up the phone to entertain a final plea for mercy on Bernard’s behalf. The call was not with Bernard’s family or his attorneys. Nor was it with representatives from the Justice Department’s Pardon Attorney office, who had recommended just days earlier that Trump spare Bernard’s life.

Interview With an Executioner


Jerry Givens (pictured) spent 17 years as a professional killer. From 1982 to 1999, he killed 62 people.

He was never punished. His work was paid for by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As the state's chief executioner, Givens pushed the buttons that administered lethal doses of electricity to the condemned. He could even choose how many volts to administer. And he is the first to admit that it was largely guesswork.

"If he was a small guy, I didn't give that much. You try not to cook the body, you know. I hate to sound gross,'' he told ABC News in a rare interview.

Only a handful of executioners in America have ever spoken publicly about their experiences, and fewer, if any, have revealed the emotional toll the job can take on a person or the mind-set of the man behind the proverbial mask.

Givens told ABC News that his experiences in the death chamber have caused him to change course and oppose the death penalty.

Givens defies the stereotype of the cold-souled executioner. A deeply religious layman, Givens claimed he prayed with many of the condemned men he was about to execute, a bold gesture at odds with the grim, emotionless solemnity with which executions are often portrayed in the movies.

He said he'd suggest to a condemned man that this was a last chance to repent and seek forgiveness from God. And he said he'd join the men in prayer. No one's tomorrow is guaranteed, he said.

"This could be my last chance too.''

The emotionally charged, ongoing debate in the United States over capital punishment has reached a near fever pitch in recent days.

On Monday [story written in December 2007] New Jersey's governor signed a bill banning capital punishment in the state. In a momentous and much-anticipated showdown, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next term on whether lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The U.S. has executed 1,099 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976, according to The Associated Press. In 1999, 98 people were executed, the most since 1976; last year 53 people were executed, the lowest since 1996.

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Source: ABCnews.com

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