January 22, 2021

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A federal death-row inmate scheduled to be executed days just before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration has tested constructive for the coronavirus, his attorney said Thursday.

Dustin John Higgs is just one of many people on federal demise row set to be executed during the presidential changeover, which has drawn condemnation from attorneys and critics who argue versus carrying out their sentenced just before President Trump, who supports capital punishment, is changed by Biden, who opposes it.

“Today, we ended up knowledgeable by the Bureau of Prisons that Dustin Higgs has examined constructive for COVID-19,” Shawn Nolan, Higgs’s attorney, reported in a assertion. “This is absolutely the end result of the tremendous spreader executions that the govt has rushed to undertake in the heart of a world pandemic.”

This news arrived a 7 days soon after the Justice Division carried out back again-to-again executions at the penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., exactly where federal loss of life sentences are carried out. Officers also prepared to execute Lisa Montgomery this thirty day period, but it was postponed to January right after her legal professionals claimed they contracted the virus following assembly with her.

Nolan named on the government to withdraw Higgs’s execution date.

The Bureau of Prisons in a statement Thursday night stated it could ensure that inmates at the penitentiary’s distinctive confinement device, which properties the inmates there with federal dying sentences, have analyzed constructive. It did not detect the inmates or specify how a lot of of them have analyzed favourable, nor did the assertion validate that Higgs was amid these who examined favourable.

“Due to pending litigation and privateness pursuits, we decline to present more details,” the bureau’s statement reported. A spokesman declined to say when the tests were being carried out and the favourable benefits arrived back again.

For the duration of a get in touch with tracing investigation, a prisons worker assigned to the distinctive confinement device was also found to be constructive, the bureau mentioned. That human being had no make contact with with staff involved in new federal executions, they said.

“While a amount of inmates have analyzed optimistic for COVID-19 at USP Terre Haute in new weeks, lots of of these inmates are asymptomatic or exhibiting moderate signs,” the assertion explained. “Our highest priority remains making certain the safety of team and inmates.”

Asked if the bureau sought to have his execution date moved, a spokesman explained only that he was scheduled to be executed on Jan. 15, the date announced by Legal professional General William P. Barr last thirty day period.

The federal governing administration had not carried out any executions since 2003 right up until this year. Barr previous calendar year announced ideas to resume executions, and considering the fact that July the Justice Office has carried out 10 loss of life sentences.

A few additional federal executions are set for the week ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration, with Higgs’s remaining the previous presently scheduled prior to Biden can take office. Higgs was sentenced to loss of life for his part in the kidnapping and killing of a few girls. Nolan has mentioned it would be incorrect to execute Higgs when his buddy, who essentially shot the females, was convicted of murder but not sentenced to demise.

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