NPR had some great reporting this week on the Justice Department approval rate for prosecutors to seek the death penalty under the Obama administration. In March, Attorney General Eric Holder said of the death penalty: “I think that’s the toughest decision that an attorney general has to make: When do you authorize the seeking of the death penalty?”
However, it appears that the answer to his own question is essentially at the same rate as under the Bush administration. These numbers from the Federal Death Penalty Resource Center do not include recent cases and the Guantanamo cases, which could make them even higher.
Although support for the death penalty remains high, many hoped a progressive president would take a viewpoint similar to that of the Clinton administration. The Clinton administration left the decision up to state governments a majority of the time. With large states such as California looking to put an end to a practice the European Union and a total of 95 countries have abolished, this policy could lower rates significantly.
Source: Federal Death Penalty Resource Center
Credit: Robert Benincasa and Nelson Hsu/NPR
By Emma Sandoe