Sessions ramps up use of death penalty at DOJ


Attorney General Jeff Sessions will seek the death penalty in at least two murder cases in what top Justice Department officials are reportedly calling the first signs of an openness by the Trump administration to using capital punishment to fight crime.

In a decision Monday, the Justice Department announced it will seek the death penalty for Billy Arnold, a Detroit man charged with killing two rival gang members. Sessions also announced in December that the agency would seek the death penalty for Jarvis Wayne Madison, who is accused of fatally shooting his wife.

Sessions believes the death penalty is a “valuable tool in the belt,” a Justice Department official told The Wall Street Journal, which said the attorney general is weighing it in other cases.


The sentence is a deterrent, the official added, as a well as a “punishment for the most heinous crimes prohibited under federal law.”

Fifty-five percent of American adults support the use of the death penalty, according to an October Gallup poll, the lowest level of support for it in decades.

President Trump, however, has frequently stated his support for the death penalty. Last November he tweeted that the suspect in the Manhattan terrorist attack that killed eight people should get the death penalty. Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek national with lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., has pleaded not guilty.

“NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room,” Trump tweeted. “He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”

Trump also vowed in the early days of his campaign in 2015 that he would order the Justice Department to seek the death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer.

“One of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order, if I win, will be to sign a strong, strong statement that would go out to the country, out to the world, anybody killing a police man, a police woman, a police officer, anybody killing a police officer, the death penalty is going to happen,” he said.

Tags death penalty Donald Trump Donald Trump Jeff Sessions Jeff Sessions Justice Department Sayfullo Saipov

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