President Barack Obama said Friday he plans to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for an analysis of how the U.S. puts convicted criminals to death, calling a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma this week “deeply troubling.”
Obama said he supports the death penalty for “certain circumstances in which a crime is so terrible,” including mass killings and the deaths of children. But he noted there has been “significant problems” with carrying out the death penalty in the U.S., including racial bias, uneven application and situations in which there were individuals on death row who later were found innocent because of exculpatory evidence.
“All these I think do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied,” said Obama, who was asked about the case during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Obama said he’d talk with Holder and other officials for an analysis of what steps have been taken in the area of executions.
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“I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues,” he said.
The American Civil Liberties hailed Obama’s remarks, saying it was encouraged he mentioned “not only the cruelty of lethal injection but also the racial disparities in death sentences.”
“ The ACLU has long believed that we must end America’s unjust and discriminatory use of capital punishment,” said Laura Murphy, director of the group’s Washington legislative office. “We look forward to working with the Attorney General on the President’s mandate."