Clinton Delays Federal Execution

President Clinton's recent decision to delay the first federal execution in nearly 40 years is another indicator of the new mood surrounding the death penalty.

Juan Raul Garza, who was convicted seven years ago of three drug-related murders, was scheduled to die on August 5. But within weeks after Shaka Sankofa's execution, Clinton postponed Garza's execution date so that the Justice Department could update clemency procedures.

Clinton, a staunch death penalty supporter, doesn't want the spotlight headed his way - or toward his pal, Al Gore. So he's postponed Garza's execution until mid-December, well after the November elections.

Yet Clinton and Gore have a lot to answer for:

  • Federal death row has a higher percentage of Black prisoners than almost any death penalty state, including Texas.
  • Of the 199 cases in which the Justice Department authorized the federal death penalty, 76 percent involved minority defendants - 53 percent of them African American.
  • Of the 21 inmates currently on federal death row, 17 are members of racial minorities - thirteen are African American, three are Hispanic and one is Asian American.