DPIC RESOURCE: The Military Death Penalty

The capital arraignment on July 20 of Army Major Nidal Hasan for the murder of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009 has brought attention to the death penalty in the United States Military. There are currently six inmates on the military death row, which is located in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In the last two years, four men have been removed from the military death row after their sentences were reduced to life. The Uniform Code of Military Justice allows the death penalty for 15 offenses, but all current inmates were convicted of premeditated murder or felony murder. Unlike state executions, members of the military cannot be executed unless the President personally confirms the death sentence. A military jury in a capital case must be unanimous in both its verdict and the sentence. The last military execution took place 50 years ago, on April 13, 1961. U.S. Army Private John A. Bennett was hanged after being convicted of rape and attempted murder.

(M. Fernandez, “Major is arraigned in Fort Hood killings,” N.Y. Times, July 20, 2011.) For more information on the military death penalty, see U.S. Military. The military death penalty is distinct from the federal death penalty and military commissions, which have been set up to try suspects in the war on terrorism.