Published on: Sunday, October 18, 2020

On Friday, Attorney General William Barr directed the head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, for December 8, 2020 (article available here). Ms. Montgomery was convicted of one count of kidnapping resulting in death in 2007.

Her attorney, Kelley Henry, said that Montgomery deserves to live because she is mentally ill and had endured years of physical, sexual, and mental abuse. “Lisa Montgomery has long accepted full responsibility for her crime, and she will never leave prison,” Henry said in a statement. “But her severe mental illness and the devastating impacts of her childhood trauma make executing her a profound injustice.”

The last woman to be executed by the federal government was Bonnie Heady. She was put to death in a gas chamber in Missouri in 1953, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Federal executions have not taken place in nearly 20 years, but Ms. Montgomery’s would be the ninth federal execution since they resumed on July 14, 2020. Before the resumptions of executions this summer, federal authorities had executed just three people in the previous 56 years.