USA: HOLDER FAVORS MORATORIUM ON LETHAL INJECTION
|US Attorney General Eric Holder
February 17, 2015: Attorney General Eric Holder said that a national moratorium on lethal injection "would be appropriate'' until the Supreme Court completes its latest review of the execution process as part of a case initially brought by Oklahoma death row inmates.
At the National Press Club, Holder said he was speaking "personally'' on the issue and not as a member of the administration, though the death penalty is the subject of a review by the Justice Department.
The Justice review, directed by President Obama after a botched execution last year in Oklahoma, will probably not be completed before Holder leaves office in the next several weeks. His likely successor, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, awaits a confirmation vote.
"There are fundamental questions that we need to ask about the death penalty,'' said Holder, who restated his opposition to capital punishment. "There is always the possibility that mistakes will be made. ... It is for that reason that I am opposed to the death penalty.''
Holder described a scenario in which an innocent person may be wrongly executed as the "ultimate nightmare.'' He said it is "inevitable'' that such a case has occurred.
Last month, the Supreme Court announced it was considering whether a drug protocol used in recent lethal injections violates the Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
The justices agreed to review the case brought by four death row prisoners, one of whom was put to death after the court refused to block his execution using a three-drug combination that has apparently caused some prisoners pain.
Holder's comments on a moratorium do not require any response from states that use lethal injection. And the federal government remains engaged in a lawsuit challenging its lethal injection process, which has not been used in more than a decade. (Sources: USA TODAY, 17/02/2015)