Thursday, December 23, 2010

Will Obama Allow an Execution?

Josh Gerstein, at Politico.com notes that Eric Holder's Justice Department "is making preparations for what could be the first federal execution under President Barack Obama."

Gerstein notes three federal executions took place under President George W. Bush. Before the execution of Oklahoma City federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh (2001) "the federal government went almost four decades without carrying out an execution" - the last being Victor Feguer (kidnapping), who was executed in 1963. The other two individuals executed during the Bush administration were Juan Garza (murder), executed in 2001, and Louis Jones, Jr. (murder) executed in March of 2003.

According to Gerstein, the next prisoner in line would be 34-year old Jeffery Paul, who was convicted of robbery-murder in 1997. Paul shot and killed an 82-year-old National Park Service employee. Paul's lawyer says his client is suffering from "severe mental illness." As Obama came to the presidency with no executive experience, Gerstein writes:
Unlike his two most recent predecessors, Obama never had involvement before he became president with carrying out the death penalty or handing requests for clemency. However, he did work on reforms to state death penalty laws in Illinois while he was a state legislator there.

While a candidate for president, Obama said he supported the death penalty in the case of "heinous" crimes. "I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances, for the most egregious of crimes,” Obama said when criticizing a Supreme Court decision that rejected death sentences for child rape.
See story here.

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