Catholic advocates against death penalty urge clemency for woman on federal death row

Friday, Jan. 08, 2021
By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON  — The execution date of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, is currently undecided. In late December, a federal judge said the Justice Department unlawfully rescheduled her execution while there had already been a stay in effect, granted because one of her attorneys tested positive for the coronavirus.

The federal government is appealing this decision while Montgomery’s attorneys are appealing for clemency.

Her lawyers have said that she is the only woman to face execution in America for the type of crime she committed – attacking a pregnant woman and taking the baby – stating that most prosecutors recognize that such crimes are the product of severe mental illness and trauma, which they also note that Montgomery has suffered.

On Dec. 24, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss, vacated an order from the director of the Bureau of Prisons that set Montgomery’s execution date for Jan. 12, noting that this could not be rescheduled while the execution had already been granted a stay.

Under the order, the Bureau of Prisons should not have rescheduled Montgomery’s execution until at least Jan. 1 and under Justice Department guidelines, death-row inmates need at least a 20-day notice of their execution.

Montgomery, now 52, was convicted of killing 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett in Skidmore, Mo., and cutting her open and taking her 8-month-old baby in 2004.

“Given the severity of Mrs. Montgomery’s mental illness, the sexual and physical torture she endured throughout her life, and the connection between her trauma and the facts of her crime, we appeal to President Trump to grant her mercy, and commute her sentence to life imprisonment,” said Sandra Babcock, one of Montgomery’s attorneys, in a statement.

On its website, Catholic Mobilizing Network describes Montgomery as “a severely mentally ill and traumatized woman who was sexually trafficked by her own mother. She has shown remorse for her crime and accepts full responsibility.” It also notes that she would be the first woman to be federally executed in 67 years.

The site also includes an online petition, https://bit.ly/37U8x1D, urging Trump to stop Montgomery’s execution and thanking participants for their “advocacy and attention to this matter of life and death.”

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