Aschroft's Death Penalty Picks
Attorney General John Ashcroft has overriden his local prosecutors and insisted on seeking the death penalty in 28 cases so far. In 26 of the cases, the defendant was black or hispanic.It appears Ashcroft is moving towards a nationalized death penalty.
If Ashcroft has his way, more federal juries in more states will be asked to sentence defendants to death, said Kevin McNally, an attorney with the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project. He calls it the "nationalization" of the death penalty. "What I mean by that is the federal government is bringing the death penalty to states where it is not an ordinary part of the fabric of the criminal justice system," said McNally, a Frankfort, Ky., attorney who has assisted in the Denis case. "They're bringing it to states where it's abolished, and states that haven't abolished it -- like New York and Connecticut -- but where it's used infrequently."One good statistic: The Government has lost in 2 out of every 3 cases in which it has sought the death penalty since its reinstatement in 1976.
Two federal prisoners have been executed since the return of capital punishment in federal cases -- Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and drug kingpin Juan Garza, both in June 2001.Still, Ashcroft's policy represents a disturbing trend, to say the least. Of Ashcroft's 28 overrides, 8 have occurred in the past two weeks. The fact that he is bringing death penalty prosecutions to federal courts in states in which voters have decreed there shall not be a death penalty is particularly odius.
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