The federal government on Tuesday carried out its first execution in almost two decades, killing by lethal injection a man convicted of murdering an Arkansas family in a 1990s plot to build a whites-only nation in the Pacific Northwest.
The execution of Daniel Lewis Lee came over the objection of the victims’ relatives and following days of legal delays, reviving the debate over capital punishment during a time of widespread social unrest. And the Trump administration’s determination to proceed with executions added a new chapter to the national conversation about criminal justice reform in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.
Just before he died at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, Lee, professed his innocence. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer.” said Lee, 47, of Yukon, Oklahoma. “You’re killing an innocent man.”