Magazine article The Christian Century

Clinton Asked to Stay Federal Death Penalty

Magazine article The Christian Century

Clinton Asked to Stay Federal Death Penalty

Article excerpt

In the wake of a moratorium on executions in the state of Illinois, President Clinton is considering a senator's request to suspend federal executions. In a letter dated January 2, Senator Russ Feingold (D., Wis.) asked Clinton to place a hold on federal executions and have Attorney General Janet Reno review how the federal death penalty is administered in the United States.

"Before the federal government executes anyone, the Justice Department should be absolutely certain that innocents have not been condemned to death," wrote Feingold, sponsor of a bill to abolish the federal death penalty. Feingold's request was spurred by Illinois Governor George Ryan's recent decision to stop executions in that state until authorities can determine whether the death penalty has been applied fairly.

Republican Ryan said the Illinois moratorium will be in effect until a commission he appoints reviews the use of the death penalty in his state. "I now favor a moratorium, because I have grave concerns about our state's shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on death row," said Ryan in his January 31 announcement. "I cannot support a system which, in its administration, has proven to be so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life. …

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