Washington, Jul 14 (EFE) .- The Government of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, carried out on Tuesday the first execution of a convict for federal crimes in 17 years, just six hours after the Supreme Court annulled the objection of a judge to the procedure used in the application of capital punishment.
“Law and order,” Trump declared in a message on his Twitter account shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision to give free rein to executions was known.
Authorities at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, executed Daniel Lewis Lee, a former white supremacist convicted in 1999 of the torture and 1996 murder of three family members, whose bodies he dumped in a lake in Arkansas.
“I have made many mistakes in my life, but I am not a murderer,” Lee said in his closing statement. “They are killing an innocent man,” he added.
In response to the appeal of four death row inmates, Washington federal judge Tanya Chutkan had issued an opinion on Monday stating that the new protocol for the execution of the death penalty is likely to violate the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
This amendment establishes that prisoners cannot be subjected to “cruel or unusual punishment”.
The magistrate assured in her ruling that there was sufficient evidence that the lethal drug used in the execution, pentobarbital, “produces feelings of drowning and suffocation” and causes “extreme pain, terror and panic.”
The new US protocol for federal executions, in which only pentobarbital should now be used instead of the combination of various drugs previously used, has been under review by US courts and has caused problems and macabre episodes of attempts. failed.
This was the second time that the magistrate of the US capital had issued a ruling on the matter, after last November she already rejected the executions by this procedure, a decision that was later reversed by an appeals court.
On June 29, the Supreme Court had refused to block the execution of four federal prison inmates who are scheduled for this month and for August, the first of which is that of Daniel Lewis Lee.
US Attorney General William Barr last year ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to resume the execution program.
The last federal execution before Lewis Lee’s had taken place in 2003 and there are currently 61 prisoners sentenced to death by the federal government, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
These include the man convicted of the 2013 Boston Marathon attacks, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; and Dylann Roof, sentenced to death for the murder of nine African-American parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015; although both are in the legal appeal process.
The resumption of the application of the federal capital punishment contrasts with the trend registered in the United States in recent years, with the progressive reduction of executions, increasingly concentrated in the conservative states in the south of the country.
In fact, several states have recently abolished the death penalty, reaching 22 out of 50 in the country.
The last one was Colorado, which suspended it in March.
After the Donald Trump administration announced the return of capital punishment at the federal level, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the decision by claiming that the Justice Department is “back on the wrong side of the history”.
“The federal system of the death penalty does not work and is racist, ineffective and cruel … and this decision returns the country decades ago,” he said in a statement.
The DPIC, which collects information on the death penalty, said that “since 1973 more than 160 people who were wrongly accused and sentenced to death in the US have subsequently been exonerated.”