Jan 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Court reinstates execution date for woman on federal death row

Picture of a sign in front of the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex indicating that the area is under surveillance.
The Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana, where Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to be executed. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that a federal judge was wrong when he delayed the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row.

Why it matters: If Montgomery is executed, she will be the first female federal inmate put to death in almost 70 years, per The New York Times.

  • The execution is scheduled to take place on Jan. 12, just days before the inauguration of President-elect Biden, who opposes the death penalty.

Background: Montgomery was originally scheduled to be executed on Dec. 8 in the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex in Indiana, but U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss postponed the execution after her attorneys contracted coronavirus after visiting their client, preventing the Federal Bureau of Prisons from rescheduling before Jan. 1.

  • The Bureau of Prisons had attempted to reschedule the execution date for Jan. 12 in November, but were stopped by Moss' order.

The state of play: The appeals court said the agency could reschedule the execution because the original date had not passed. The court's order said it "was acting under the law, clearing the way for Montgomery's execution later this month," CNN writes.

The other side: Meaghan VerGow, one of Montgomery's attorneys, plans to file a petition for the court to reconsider, per CNN.

  • The attorneys argue that Montgomery suffers from serious mental illness and should not be executed.
  • VerGow has asked President Trump to reduce her client's sentence to life without parole, CNN reports.

Montgomery was convicted in 2004 for strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was 8-months pregnant at the time, then cutting her baby out of her stomach and kidnapping it. The baby survived.

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