by Lauren Bailey
National Field Organizer, Pax Christi USA

This week marks a heinous attempt by the Trump administration to execute 3 individuals, adding to the 10 the administration has already executed over the last half of 2020. This week and in support of the incoming Biden administration’s influence to end use of the death penalty shortly after taking office, we need to pray, study and act in defense of human dignity and in support of abolishing the death penalty. The information below has been gleaned from several of our partners, most notably Death Penalty Action and the Catholic Mobilizing Network.

Status of each case:

Lisa Montgomery: Sadly, after a temporary reprieve, Lisa Montgomery’s execution went forward around 1am Wednesday.

Corey Johnson: Corey Johnson is one of the three longest-serving people on the federal death row, along with his co-defendants. Psychosocial evaluations reflect that Corey has an intellectual disability, although that was not presented to the jury at the time of the trial. Federal law prohibits the death penalty for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Corey Johnson is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, January 14th, 2021. 

Dustin Higgs: All witnesses present at the time of the event agree that Dustin Higgs did not kill anyone. Dustin’s co-defendant, Willis Haynes, was tried separately and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murders of Tamika Black, Tanji Jackson, and Mishann Chinn. Dustin’s attorney, Shawn Nolan, said that “It would be arbitrary and inequitable to punish Mr. Higgs more severely than the person who committed the murders.” More information about Dustin Higgs and his case can be found at Dustin Higgs is scheduled to be executed on Friday, January 15th, 2021. 

St. Susanna Pax Christi in Massachusetts held a prayer vigil focused on these three people last week. Pat Ferrone wrote a piece for each of them to give voice to some of their story, while imagining what they might say, given the opportunity that would arise from their best selves. Read each of these below:

Petitions and Actions: 

Death Penalty Action (DPA) is circulating petitions to support the newly introduced legislation to abolish the federal death penalty. 

Sign Catholic Mobilizing Network’s (CMN) petition to President-elect Biden, urging him to end the federal death penalty.  

Events this week:

DPA is hosting virtual and in-person events on January 14 and 15. 

In-person events in Washington, D.C.

  • January 14 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm: Execution vigil for Cory Johnson at White House / BLM Plaza
  • January 15 from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon: Execution vigil for Dustin Higgs at the Dept. of Justice (950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW)

Virtual events

  • January 14 and 15: Virtual execution vigils streamed from outside the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Find the info at this link.
  • January 10-16: “Ending the Death Penalty: A Virtual Conference”. Sign up for free and get more info here.

CMN is hosting a series of prayer vigils from 2-3pm EST on the day of each scheduled execution. To register and attend these vigils, click here.

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