Department of Justice Review of State Death Penalty Protocols Underway

Following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April, President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review death penalty procedures in the states. Though a timeline for the study has not been released, the department has already reached out to at least one organization, the Constitution Project, which proposed several reforms in its recent report on the death penalty, including the establishing of an office at the Justice Department to review innocence claims from death row prisoners. The group alos asked for more information about federal death penalty cases, given evidence of racial disparity, and the development of “federal standards and procedures” for accrediting forensic laboratories.

In calling for a review, Obama cited numerous problems with the death penalty, including, “racial bias, uneven application of the death penalty …[and] individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent….”

(B. Goad, “Obama’s death penalty review risks backlash from the states,” The Hill, June 9, 2014). See Federal Death Penalty and Studies.