First federal execution in US since 2003 set to take place today, July 13

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jul 13, 2020, 03.37 PM(IST) Jul 13, 2020, 03.59 PM(IST)

Representative image of a prison Photograph:( AFP )

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Lee from Yukon, Oklahoma was convicted in Arkansas for the murders of William Mueller, a gun dealer, along with his wife Nancy and their eight-year-old daughter Sarah Powell in 1996

The first federal execution in the United States in nearly 20 years is set to take place on Monday, July 13.

At 4 pm local time, Daniel Lewis Lee will be injected with a lethal substance in Indiana, at a federal prison.

Lee from Yukon, Oklahoma was convicted in Arkansas for the murders of William Mueller, a gun dealer, along with his wife Nancy and their eight-year-old daughter Sarah Powell in 1996.

First execution since 2003

This is the first execution since 2003. A federal appeals court on Sunday lifted an injunction put forward by the family saying they would be risking too much by travelling during a pandemic. The family had also decided to follow it up with the US Supreme Court.

The US is witnessing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, with over 135,000 deaths in the country, and Florida inducting record-number of infections.

Also read: US to resume federal executions on July 13, after a 17-year stay

Critics and civil rights groups claim that this is a political move, as the American public is currently busy dealing with a pandemic. Many believe this will trigger conversations around federal executions and reform in criminal justice in the US, building up to the presidential elections set to happen later in the year.

William Barr, the attorney general, last week had said that it was their “duty” to carry out the execution, in order to bring “closure to the victims” and to honour the courts.

'Not in our name'

Relatives of those killed told the Guardian that this was not being done “in their name”.

The family members claim that nationwide prisons are already unable to contain the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and them being there witnessing the execution in a small room would limit the chances of social distancing.

The Terre Haute prison, where the execution is set to take place today, has recorded four confirmed cases of COVID-19.

A special team is set to conduct the execution. Just yesterday, on July 12, the justice department claimed that a member involved in the process of executing inmates had contracted COVID-19.

Just last year, Barr had announced plans to resume capital punishment in the country. Only three people have been put on the death row since 1988, when the death penalty was reintroduced in the country.

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