The death penalty is under intense scrutiny and now retiring Attorney General Eric Holder has stepped into the fray, calling for a death penalty moratorium pending the use of a lethal injection drug in Oklahoma and being determined by the Supreme Court.
The Huffington Post report that Holder was making the comments about the death penalty at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.. Holder, noting that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not as a member of the administration, said the “inevitable” possibility of executing an innocent individual is what makes him oppose capital punishment.
“Our system of justice is the best in the world. It is comprised of men and women who do the best they can, get it right more often than not, substantially more right than wrong,” Holder said. “There’s always the possibility that mistakes will be made … It’s for that reason that I am opposed to the death penalty.”
He continued: “I think fundamental questions about the death penalty need to be asked. And among them, the Supreme Court’s determination as to whether or not lethal injection is consistent with our Constitution is one that ought to occur. From my perspective, I think a moratorium until the Supreme Court made that determination would be appropriate.”
Holder clarified that his personal views on the matter are not part of an ongoing Justice Department review of state execution practices.
Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to review a case brought by death row inmates accusing the state of Oklahoma of violating the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The case came after Oklahoma botched the execution of inmate Clayton Lockett, who was seen writhing and clenching his teeth after being administered a lethal three-drug combination. Lockett ultimately died 43 minutes after he was administered the drugs.
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