THE FEDERAL government went on an execution spree last month, killing three prisoners in one week. Federal officials had not carried out a death sentence since 2003. Two more federal executions are scheduled for next month.

“With these executions, the federal government has joined the small minority of jurisdictions that conduct executions and the even smaller number of jurisdictions that are willing to pursue them in the midst of the worst global pandemic in generations,” the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks death penalty policies and their application across the country, found. “The resumption of executions along with the government’s disregard for procedural protections and established norms firmly place it in the ‘outlier’ category at a time when support for capital punishment is at a historic low.”

Daniel Lewis Lee was the first man the federal government put to death last month. His victims’ family begged federal authorities at least to delay the execution because they could not attend for fear of catching covid-19. The family’s wishes were ignored. Religious advisers for Wesley Purkey and Dustin Honken, the two men executed after Mr. Lee, similarly had to consider whether to put themselves or others at risk to be present.

These men were convicted of serious crimes. There have been executions in the United States in cases that were less certain and in circumstances that were more disturbing. What is particularly stomach-turning in this case is the eagerness federal officials showed in carrying out the sentences. Attorney General William P. Barr’s original plan was to execute five people over six weeks starting last December. Litigation only delayed that plan, and the coronavirus did not deter the executioners. No matter what happened, the prisoners were going to spend the rest of their lives in prison. There was no need to rush the inmates onto their gurneys.

The executions provide another reminder of the skewed priorities of the Trump Justice Department. We’ve been reminded, in a summer of police abuse and nationwide protest, that one of the administration’s first acts was to diminish the oversight of state and local police departments. But the zeal to execute burns brightly.

The death penalty is ineffective and immoral. We look forward to a day when the Justice Department again assumes a mission truer to its name.

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