Dylann Roof — the self-declared white supremacist who was convicted of killing nine people at a historically black church in June of 2015 — received a federal death sentence by jury this week. Roof is the first person convicted of a federal hate crime to receive the death penalty.
Last month, Roof was found guilty of 33 charges of murder, attempted murder and hate crimes after a seven-day federal trial. He outwardly admitted to the murders, claiming that “somebody had to do it.”
Historically, only three federal inmates have actually been executed and none for committing a hate crime. On the state level, however, South Carolina — where Roof’s case has not yet been tried due to the results of the federal case — has executed 41 people since 1988.
Roof’s state case, where he faces 13 charges, was scheduled to begin Tuesday, Jan. 17 but has been delayed indefinitely.
Due to the results of the federal trial, Roof is the 63rd person on federal death row. Therefore, it is unlikely for his state case to be tried in the near future because of the lenghthy process of appeals and further court dates Roof is expected to undergo. In short, it will most likely be a long time before Roof actually gets his sentenced punishment.
While I don’t particularly believe in the use of or admire the death sentence, I do believe that in Roof’s case, the sentence is justified. His outwardly racist and violent actions are dangerous to society.
Ultimately, we don’t know if Roof will ever actually receive the death penalty by federal law. If he were to proceed in state trial, he would likely receive the exact if not similar punishment. So now, the only thing the country can do is wait.