November 13, 2020
Last summer, after a 17-year hiatus, the Trump Administration resumed executions in federal criminal cases. Seven federal inmates have been executed. According to his official website, Joe Biden opposes the death penalty. This will come as good news to Lisa Montgomery, for whom January 20, 2021 can’t come fast enough.
Montgomery, who, according to this HuffPost article, suffers from severe mental illness and is a victim of childhood abuse and sex trafficking, is the only women among the 70 federal prisoners on death row, having been convicted of a particular chilling and heinous murder of a pregnant woman for the purpose of taking the baby and claiming it as her own. Her execution has been scheduled for December 8th.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Her clemency application is due by November 15th. Both of her attorneys, however — who twice visited her at the prison in Texas where she is confined — have been infected with the COVID virus, and are quarantined. They are asking for an extension of the deadline for the clemency application, arguing that it is impossible for them to evaluate her mental condition unless they are afforded the continued opportunity to meet with her in person.
Meanwhile, a coalition of over a thousand prosecutors, anti-violence advocates and mental health experts have sent letters to President Trump, asking him to commute her sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole.
If she is executed, Montgomery will be the first woman put to death in the federal system since 1953. If her lawyers can buy her 68 more days, she will likely avoid lethal injection.