Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fed's Pursue First Execution Under President Obama

The Justice Department is preparing to carry out the first federal execution under President Barack Obama. The Bureau of Prisons announced its intention to execute Jeffrey Paul. He was sentenced to death for killing an 82-year-old retired National Park employee in Arkansas, according to

In a filing with the federal court, the U.S. Department of Justice has asked the court to schedule an execution date following a 120 day waiting period as required by law. Paul's lawyers said that they were not aware of the government's request to set an execution date.

Three federal executions were carried out under President George W. Bush, including that of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 2001. The last execution was in 2003. Before McVeigh was executed by lethal injection, the federal government went nearly 40 years without carrying out an execution, according to

President Obama supports the death penalty. However, his support is conditioned on capital punishment being restricted to "very narrow circumstances, for the most egregious of crimes." Some commentators are questioning whether Paul's case is of such a narrow or egregious nature that it passes President Obama's test.

Part of the reason for the 120 delay in scheduling an execution date is to provide the president with an opportunity to review the case for purposes of clemency. President Obama may have the opportunity to apply his self imposed criteria to Jeffrey Paul.

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