Trump accused of “end-of-term execution spree” as first woman in 70 years set to be executed days before he leaves office
18th Dec 2020
The flurry of federal executions is being criticised as Trumps’s presidency comes to an end
Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to death after she strangled a pregnant woman to death in Missouri, cut out and kidnapped her baby 16 years ago this week.
It was a despicable crime and one that shocked the nation.
In court, it was revealed that Montgomery drove to the home of pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, to buy a terrier pup after chatting online.
There she strangled Stinnet and used a kitchen knife to remove the baby from its mother’s body. She kidnapped the baby, who was later named Victoria Jo, and tried to allege it was her own.
Montgomery had researched home births and how to perform cesarean sections online before the attack. Stinnett’s mother discovered her body an hour later.
The baby lived and was eventually reunited with her father.
12 years ago, a jury found Montgomery guilty of federal kidnapping resulting in death, and unanimously recommended a death sentence.
She is due to be given a lethal injection on the 12th of January, just days before Donald Trump packs his White House bags. But lawyers for Montgomery say she is mentally unwell as a result of sexual and physical abuse she suffered as a child.
The problem is that President Trump’s approach to federal executions has been unprecedented. They are usually done under state law rather than federal law. To put that into context, there hasn’t been a federal execution in 17 years. This year there have been nine federal executions and four more are planned before Joe Biden’s inauguration on 20th January.
The Trump administration said it would resume federal executions after a long hiatus last year. In a statement at the time, the attorney general said: “Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals.
“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law – and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
But many have questioned why Trump has gone on what is being described as a “killing spree”, especially as president in transition.
The director of the Death Penalty Information Centre is reported to have called it an aberration. “It’s hard to understand why anybody at this stage of a presidency feels compelled to kill this many people”
Of course, some of these crimes committed are undeniably awful but many of such inmates suffer a litany of dreadful mental illness. In Montgomery’s case, her activists argued that she killed Bobbie Jo in the middle of a psychotic episode. She had also been sex-trafficked as a child for many years by her own mother.
To be clear, there isn’t undue pressure from the public, as such. In fact, according to the latest figures from a GallUp poll last year, the majority of Americans (60%) support life in prison over the death penalty.
The question then is why Donald Trump’s administration is in such a hurry to carry out these executions before it leaves office? Power trip or federal responsibility?
Image via Indiana Detention Facility
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