Lisa Montgomery: What Both Sides Are Saying

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Lisa Montgomery: What Both Sides Are Saying
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Lisa Montgomery was the first woman executed by the federal government since 1953 and was the only woman on death row. Below is an overview of what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox every morning be sure to sign up for our daily newsletter.

Top story from the BBC: “Lisa Montgomery – the only female inmate on federal death row in the US – has been executed for murder. The case attracted attention because her lawyers argued she was mentally ill and suffered serious abuse as a child.” Here’s what both sides are saying about the first execution of a female inmate since 1953:

On the Right: Traditionally conservative outlets largely stuck to reporting rather than opinion. Fox News outlined that Lisa Montgomery was “a convicted murderer who strangled an expectant mother in Missouri and cut the baby from her womb 16 years ago.” The right-leaning outlet noted that “she was the 11th prisoner to receive a lethal injection [at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana] since July when President Trump, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, resumed federal executions following 17 years without one.” Fox News noted how Kelley Henry, Montgomery’s attorney, said she didn’t believe Montgomery had “any rational comprehension of what’s going on at all” before her execution. Prosecutors, on the other hand, “made accusations that Montgomery was faking her mental illness because the murder was premeditated.” Ultimately, “the government admitted her mental illness but said Montgomery should be able to understand she was being executed for committing murder.” Fox News outlined Montgomery’s tragic past, which is what left-leaning outlets mainly focused on below.

On the Left: Left-leaning outlets focused on Montgomery’s mental illness and disturbing past. Some honed in on what they considered politically driven cruelty by President Donald Trump and his administration. Starting with the second point first, Progressives and advocates against the death penalty accused Trump of pushing for executions before the election in a cynical effort to gain votes. For example, The Daily Beast titled their article: “Trump Allowed This ‘Mentally Ill’ Woman to Be Killed. In a Few Days, Biden Would Have Likely Spared Her.” On December 18, 2020, Rachel Louise Snyder wrote a lengthy op-ed for the New York Times in which she outlined Montgomery’s shocking childhood. “Ms. Montgomery’s own father left when she was a toddler. She was abused by her mother in extreme and sadistic ways.” Her “stepfather, Jack Kleiner, began to sexually assault her when she was around 13” and “when she was 18, Ms. Montgomery married her 25-year-old stepbrother” who repeatedly sexually assaulted her.” Louise Snyder outlines how “the United States government itself bears some culpability for her crime given its abject failure, throughout her life, to protect her from severe child abuse and sexual violence.” She concludes by arguing Montgomery’s life had “already [been] irreparably shattered. For many of us, that might seem punishment enough.”

Flag This: According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Lisa Montgomery was only the fifth woman put to death in a federal civilian execution. Outlets on both sides, including Fox News and the New York Times, noted that two additional federal inmates are scheduled for execution this week: Corey Johnson today and Dustin J. Higgs tomorrow. A federal judge in the DC blocked their executions in a preliminary injunction on Tuesday that the government has already appealed. Moving forward, federal executions are likely to stop. President-elect Joe Biden has signaled his opposition to the federal death penalty.

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