US Federal executions: how many prisoners have been given the death penalty under Donald Trump’s presidency?

Ruling to delay executions of Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs has been overturned by US appeals court

President Donald Trump's administration has been responsible for more than a fifth of the federal executions in US history. (Pic: Getty Images)
President Donald Trump's administration has been responsible for more than a fifth of the federal executions in US history. (Pic: Getty Images)

Donald Trump's presidency leaves a morbid legacy behind, after the resumption of the death penalty in July 2020.

No fewer than 12 prisoners have had their death sentences carried out by the US Federal Government since it was reintroduced, with Cory Johnson set to be the penultimate execution of the Trump administration.

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Lisa Montgomery - who was the only female on US federal death row - was executed on Wednesday 13 January for the murder of a pregnant woman, after it was postponed twice.

The US Supreme Court lifted a last-minute stay of execution and brought the public spotlight back on to the number of federal executions carried out under Trump’s tenure.

How many executions have there been in the US under Trump?

Since Trump authorised the resumption of federal executions, which began again in July 2020, the US government has applied the death penalty to 12 people.

This number means that the Trump administration had executed more American civilians than all of the states combined - the first time this has happened in US history.

There were seven judicial killings across the five states of Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas, stated an end of year report compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center in December 2020.

Despite the rush of federal killings, as well as seven from the combined states, it still amounted to the fewest executions in the US since 1991.

Why did Trump ramp up federal killings?

The federal government has executed five prisoners - Orlando Hall, Brandon Bernard, Alfred Bourgeois, Montgomery and Johnson - since Trump lost the election on 3 November 2020.

It is the first time in 130 years that a lame-duck president presided over an execution.

Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said: “It’s hard to understand why anybody at this stage of a presidency feels compelled to kill this many people. This is a complete historical aberration.”

Court rulings to delay the final two US federal executions of the Trump administration were overturned by the US appeals court.

How many federal executions have there been in history?

There have now been 49 federal executions since records began in 1927.

The execution of Daniel Lewis Lee on 14 July 2020, for three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, was the first federal killing in 17 years.

It means the Trump administration has presided over more than a fifth of federal executions.

When was the last federal execution in the US?

The last federal killing before Montgomery was that of Bourgeois on 11 December 2020 for multiple offences, including murder. He was executed by lethal injection at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Records show the first person to receive the death penalty instructed by the US Federal Government was James Aldermon in 1927.

While the two other people on federal death row who have had their executions delayed are Cory

The death sentence of Cory Johnson, for the murder of seven people, was carried out on Thursday 14 January. He was pronounced dead at 11.34pm following a lethal injection with pentobarbital at the US justice department’s execution chamber in Terre Haute.

The federal execution of Dustin John Higgs, for the kidnapping and murder of three women, is scheduled to take place on 15 January.