Current Status of the Federal Death Penalty:
On December 2, 2019, the U.S. Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to allow the resumption of federal executions after a 16-year hiatus. The request came hours after an appeals court upheld an injunction which temporarily halted the federal executions scheduled for December 2019 and January 2020.
The situation concerning the planned restart of federal executions is incredibly volatile and requires your continued vigilance. You can raise your voice in opposition to the resumption of federal executions and call on our government leaders to uphold a consistent ethic of life.
Case Specific Information for Lezmond Mitchell:
The federal government issued a death warrant to execute Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo man, by lethal injection Wednesday, December 11, 2019 for the 2001 murders of two fellow Navajo people, Alyce Slim, 63, and her granddaughter, 9, on a Navajo reservation in Arizona.
On October 4, 2019, the execution was stayed by the Ninth Circuit in order for the court to review an on-going appeal concerning possible anti-Native American bias in Mr. Mitchell’s case.
The Navajo Nation has consistently maintained its opposition to capital punishment generally, and as applied to Mr. Mitchell specifically. Despite the objections of the Navajo Nation, as well as the objections of some of the victims’ family and the local United States Attorney’s Office, the federal government insisted that Mr. Mitchell be prosecuted capitally.
The government took aggressive steps to exclude Native Americans from serving on his jury, and its arguments to the jury included comments directed against Mr. Mitchell’s Navajo heritage. Mr. Mitchell’s death sentence represents an unprecedented denigration of tribal sovereignty.
Mr. Mitchell has been diagnosed as being psychotic at the time of the crimes. Mr. Mitchell’s co-defendant, who initiated the killings, received a life sentence due to his age of 16; yet Mr. Mitchell, who had just turned 20 and was less culpable, received a death sentence.
The Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is unacceptable in all cases because it is "an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person." (Catholic Catechism 2267)