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John Ashcroft on Crime

Former Attorney General; Former Republican Senator (MO)


No racial bias in Garza execution nor in federal system

Convicted murderer Juan Raul Garza was executed Tuesday by lethal injection today. Garza’s and Timothy McVeigh’s deaths are the only two federal executions since 1963. Garza was sentenced to death for each of the murders under a federal “drug kingpin” statute.

John Ashcroft said there is no reason to spare Garza’s life. He said Garza was [found guilty] for three deaths and [was responsible for] five others -- including at least four murders in Mexico for which he was never prosecuted. Ashcroft also said there was no racial bias in the case, emphasizing the prosecutor was Hispanic, as were seven of the eight victims. The Department of Justice, as well, said a recently completed study found no racial bias in the federal system. Garza’s attorney John Howley strongly disagreed, saying “there’s no question that race plays a big part in every death sentence. The fact is we only give out the death penalty in this country to poor, to minorities, and to the mentally retarded,” he said.

Source: CNN.com , Jun 19, 2001

Opposes any further delays in McVeigh’s execution

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is seeking to have his June 11 execution delayed. The execution was postponed after federal investigators disclosed they had failed to turn over thousands of pages of documents to McVeigh’s defense team. John Ashcroft said the Justice Department will vigorously oppose any attempt to force a new trial or overturn McVeigh’s sentence.

“When a fraud upon the court has been perpetrated, then any judgement that the court makes is void,” said McVeigh’s attorney. Another attorney insists that still-undisclosed documents would point to the involvement of others. Ashcroft says the documents contain useless information that poured into the FBI hotline after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, which killed 168 people. Ashcroft said, “Based on overwhelming evidence and McVeigh’s own repeated admissions, we know that he is responsible for this crime. We will continue to pursue justice by seeking to carry out the sentence.”

Source: Lynda Gorov, Boston Globe, p. A1 , Jun 1, 2001

Oversaw 7 executions as Governor of Missouri

At Ashcroft’s appointment, President-Elect Bush said there was no reason to have a moratorium on the federal death penalty, and Ashcroft agreed. Ashcroft is a very strong supporter of the death penalty. Bush oversaw 152 executions in Texas as governor over the course of six years. Ashcroft said he has weighed the issues on this subject when he was governor of Missouri from 1984-92. Seven people were executed under Ashcroft, compared to 26 put to death under the late Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan.
Source: ABCnews.com, “An Ashcroft Justice Department” , Dec 23, 2000

Tougher school rules keep schools safe

Source: JohnAshcroft.org, campaign web site , Nov 7, 2000

Death penalty reinforces consequences for our actions

The practice of executing murderers, which had long been frozen by our judicial system, began to thaw during my first term as Missouri's chief executive. Suddenly the governor's office operated as the final appeal for men on death row, and this created serious pressure on me personally. My decisions were not quite as tough as they may appear. Let me tell you why.

Two distinct voices have rung through the annals of time. The first voice says, "Do whatever you want. It won't make a difference because you're free." The other voice, belonging to God, says, "Choose carefully, because you are meaningful and make a difference." The voice that said, "You're free," does not describe freedom as much as it describes meaninglessness.

Because our lives have meaning, there are consequences to our actions, and we must learn to accept them. Our culture is infected with the thought that freedom means a lack of consequence, but the laws of nature and of nature's God know that there are no inconsequential acts.

Source: Lessons From a Father to His Son, by John Ashcroft p.133-137 , May 5, 1998

Finding Christ on death row is no reason for pardon

And then there were the letters: "Dear Governor, He has been sentenced to die, but you need to know that he has become a Christian. He is truly repentant and sorry for what he has done, so I'm asking you to commute his death sentence."

Most of the men sentenced to die had been convicted 8 to 12 years prior, and their cases had traveled through numerous legal reviews and evaluations. I had to learn not to assume responsibility that was not mine. My decision was whether to interrupt the process, not whether I would kill.

I chose not to commute this man's death sentence]. Just because a murderer has learned to love the Lord does not mean the state should pardon him. As a Christian, I am willing to forgive him; but as governor, it would have been inappropriate for me to pardon him unless a mistake had been made in the judicial proceedings. Becoming a Christian may remove us from ETERNAL penalties, but it does not relieve us or others from the consequences of our acts.

Source: Lessons From a Father to His Son, by John Ashcroft p.133-139 , May 5, 1998

Voted NO on $1.15 billion per year to continue the COPS program.

Vote on an amendment to authorize $1.15 billion per year from 2000 through 2005 to continue and expand the Community Oriented Policing Services program. $600 million of the annual funding is marked for hiring additional officers [up to 50,000]
Reference: Bill S.254 ; vote number 1999-139 on May 20, 1999

Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals.

Vote to table, or kill, a motion to send the bill back to the joint House-Senate conference committee with instructions to delete the provisions in the bill that would make it harder for prisoners given the death penalty in state courts to appeal.
Reference: Bill S.735 ; vote number 1996-66 on Apr 17, 1996

Voted YES on limiting product liability punitive damage awards.

Approval of a limit on punitive damages in product liability cases.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)40; NV)1
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 956; Bill H. R. 956 ; vote number 1996-46 on Mar 21, 1996

Voted YES on restricting class-action lawsuits.

Restriction of class-action security lawsuits.
Status: Veto Overridden Y)68; N)30; P)1
Reference: H.R. 1058 passage over veto; Bill H.R. 1058 ; vote number 1995-612 on Dec 22, 1995

Voted YES on repealing federal speed limits.

Repeal federal speeding limits.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)64; N)36
Reference: Motion to table Lautenberg Amdt #1428; Bill S. 440 ; vote number 1995-270 on Jun 20, 1995

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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014