Should the United States abolish the death penalty?
Introduction to the media issueVideo clip at right: On January 13, 2021, BBC News reported on the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row in the United States.
What they said...
'We owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system'
United States Attorney General William Barr
'The death penalty...has no public safety benefit'
American Civil Liberties Union
The issue at a glance
On January 16, 2021, the last federal execution authorised by the Trump administration was completed.
Over the preceding six months, the United States federal government had executed a further twelve prisoners convicted of capital offences.
It has been noted that this is the highest number of federal executions since 1896 and more than the seven executions conducted in 2020 by all the 28 American states that still apply the death penalty.
On July 25, 2020, the United States Department of Justice announced that the Trump administration would resume capital punishment after 'a nearly two-decade lapse'. Attorney General William Barr stated, '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.'
Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center has explained that opponents of the death penalty have been critical of these executions as 'out of step with the historical practices of previous presidents...[and] out of step with today's state practices' as capital punishment has been in decline across the United States.