WFIU’s ‘Rush to Kill’ podcast examines federal death penalty: New episodes will be released weekly through November 23
After almost two decades without a federal execution in the United States, President Donald Trump’s attorney general William Barr instructed the U.S. justice department to resume executions, which began in July of 2020. By the end of Trump’s presidency, 13 prisoners were executed--three times as many federal prisoners as in the previous six decades combined.
During that six-month period, the WFIU News team went to the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, to report on each of the 13 prisoners and witness their executions in person. After the last prisoner was executed in January 2021, the WFIU News team continued their reporting. For two years, the team collected documents and interviewed sources connected to every execution carried out by the U.S. government since 2001. The result of this reporting is Rush to Kill—a new podcast series on the federal death penalty from WFIU Public Radio.
Rush to Kill covers the stories of the 13 prisoners who were executed during President Trump’s last months in office, including Brandon Bernard, Alfred Bourgeois, Orlando Hall, Dustin Higgs, Dustin Honken, Corey Johnson, William LeCroy, Daniel Lee, Lezmond Mitchell, Lisa Montgomery, Keith Nelson, Wesley Purkey, and Christopher Vialva. The podcast also examines the cases of three other federal prisoners who were put to death in previous decades--Juan Garza, Louis Jones, and Timothy McVeigh.
In addition to the prisoners’ stories, Rush to Kill looks at the ethics of the federal death penalty—from issues with racism, intellectual disability, media participation, and using lethal injection, presenting evidence that it might not be as quick and painless as people think. The podcast also explores the question of what the next presidential election might mean to the 44 men who are currently on federal death row.
Episodes will be released every Thursday from October 12 through November 23 and will be available on all major podcast platforms and WFIU’s Rush to Kill website. Visit wfiu.org/rushtokill to learn more information about the podcast and to hear a trailer.
The Rush to Kill team includes host and lead reporter George Hale, researcher Cathy Knapp, news director Sara Wittmeyer, and editor Perry Metz. WFIU News also participated in the NPR Story Lab Editorial Training Workshop and worked with the NPR Investigations Desk to help develop the podcast. More than a dozen other public radio journalists contributed original reporting for Rush to Kill.
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