After a 17-year hiatus, the government announced plans to use a new execution method for federal executions and is planning to begin executions via lethal injection July 13th. The cases of the men scheduled for federal execution reflect many of the problems that make the federal death penalty system arbitrary and unfair.
Some of the cases have strong opposition from the victims’ family members – even though the Government’s stated rationale for resuming executions was to support the victim. At least one of the men has dementia and severe mental illness. Some were convicted and sentenced based on debunked, junk-science. Because federal prisoners actually receive less judicial scrutiny than state death-row prisoners, these men may be executed even though they have been denied the opportunity for factual development or appellate review of potential constitutional errors in their cases.
The federal death penalty is not applied equally throughout the country. It is geographically concentrated and sentences are regional in nature.
Just three states- Virginia, Texas, Missouri- are responsible for nearly half of all current federal death sentences. The three federal courts in those states – the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth – account for 43 of the 62 current federal death sentences. The same three states that return the most federal death sentences also disproportionately condemn people of color. All federal death sentences handed down in the modern era from Virginia, 75% of those from Texas, and all from the Eastern District of Missouri have been imposed on people of color.
In opposition to the executions next week MADP will host an execution watch and vigil on July 13th, 15th, and 17th from 2:30 – 3:30 PM Eastern in front of the Federal Courthouse – 400 E 9th Street, KCMO. Social Distancing and mask wearing is mandatory for all in person events.
There will be a live virtual vigil from Terre Haute, Indiana where the executions take place. Hosted by Death Penalty Action: https://www.facebook.com/deathpenaltyaction/.
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty echoes concerns from across the nation that the federal government should not proceed with executions because the death penalty system is deeply flawed and the processes and procedures in place put all involved in the execution process at risk.