Thirteen human beings were executed by former-President Donald Trump and the United States Department of Justice over the past six months, between July 14, 2020 and January 16, 2021. These are some of the final words of the men and the woman who were killed by lethal injection at the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana:
Dustin Lee Honken – executed on July 17, 2020
I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.
Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.
Christopher Andre Vialva – executed September 24, 2020
I’m ready, Father.
Corey Johnson – executed on January 14, 2021
I want to say that I am sorry for my crimes. I wanted to say that to the families who were victimized by my actions, and I want these names to be remembered:
I would have said I was sorry before, but I didn’t know how. I hope you will find peace.
To my family, I have always loved you, and your love has made me real. On the streets, I was looking for shortcuts, I had some good role models, I was side tracking, I was blind and stupid.
I am not the same man that I was.
To the staff in the SCU. Thank you, you have been kind.
The pizza and strawberry shakes were wonderful, but I didn’t get the jelly-filled doughnuts that I ordered. What’s with that? This should be fixed.
Thanks to the Chaplain who has been kind.
Thanks to my legal team. Don has been more than a lawyer, he has become a friend.
I am thankful to my minister. I am OK. I am at peace.
Orlando Cordia Hall – executed November 19, 2020
My name is Orlando Cordia Hall Sr. and my Muslim name is Shakib Wali. I’m a 49-year-old Black man. I currently reside on federal death row awaiting a November 19th execution date. I am a practicing Muslim, a father of 6, a grandfather of 13, a brother, a friend, a loving companion to my soul mate and above all a fellow human being.
I have been on federal death row since 1994 for the murder of Lisa Rene, an innocent 16-year-old girl. I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge my careless, selfish act which caused a lifetime of pain and ruined many lives — none more than the victim Lisa.
It is in the spirit of humility, humanity, love, compassion, that I share my redemption journey with you. I believe that it’s through removing the cover of darkness over the death penalty that more people will be exposed to the many redemption stories and those like me who have never given up on their humanity.
Just because the government has deemed us unworthy of life and love doesn’t mean we have to acquiesce to that hopelessness. I know that redemption is possible because I’m living proof and have witnessed so many others turn their lives around for the greater good; not because they were getting something out of it, but because something in them wanted more. We know that our government doesn’t care if we have changed but I know it’s possible because Allah tells us so.
How did I feel as a black man when I saw my all-white jury? I felt like the thousands before me — doomed! I was never under the false illusion that I would receive a fair trial or a jury of my peers. The system is set up to punish people of color, especially poor people of color. I was an uneducated man, functioning illiterate at best, but I also wasn’t a fool.
Everyone in the courtroom with any power was white. There is systemic institutional racism that is designed to subjugate people of color and the poor. The death penalty has always been used as a tool to terrorize the black community. There has never been a period in the United States when a black person wasn’t under the threat of death, be it by legal lynching, burning, shooting, or beating to death. The method may vary as a means to an end, but the result is still the same.
Throughout the history of this nation up until the present day, the vast number of people in prison and on death row are people of color. The American justice system has never been fair when it comes to the poor and people of color. On this fact alone, there shouldn’t be a death penalty. We can have justice without revenge.
I humbly implore everyone reading this to lift your voice and use whatever platform you have to educate people on this subject. I may not be the poster child for redemption, but I am a human being who deserves humanity if nothing more.
Thank you for your time and the opportunity to shine light on darkness. I can only hope and pray that we can make progress and stop these state sanctioned murders being done in the name of the people. May Allah favor our efforts. I leave you as I meet you in peace. As-salaam Alaikum….
Lisa Marie Montgomery – executed on January 13, 2021
Dustin John Higgs – executed on January 16, 2021
I’d like to say I am an innocent man.
I am not responsible for the deaths.
I did not order the murders.
Brandon Bernard – executed on December 10, 2020
I wish I could take it all back, but I can’t.
That’s the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day.