US Attorney General William Barr has directed the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to reinstate the death penalty for federal inmates, setting the stage for the execution of inmates on federal death row for the first time in 16 years.
Those condemned to death have been convicted of murders and sex crimes, the Justice Department said, and are due to be executed by lethal injection using a single drug, pentobarbital, which replaces a three-drug cocktail previously used in federal executions. "He added", We owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system".
This is a developing story. And there have only been three of these executions since the federal death penalty was reinstituted in 1988 (Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was one of them). Similarly, future school and other mass shootings will not be halted by putting those responsible to death. The move ends an informal federal moratorium. It remains unclear today what came of that review and whether it will change the way the federal government carries out executions.
Additional executions will be scheduled at a later date.
Barr announced that he has directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of five inmates over the next six months.
"It's not because it takes too long it's because the trial itself is that much more expensive", she said while pointing out locking people up for the rest of their lives without parole is much cheaper.
The final inmate scheduled to be executed, Dustin Lee Honken, was convicted in 2004 in connection with the killings of five people as part of a plan to thwart a federal investigation into his drug operation.
Pressley called the reinstatement of the death penalty "racist, vile policy".
Breyer wrote that "it is highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment", which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
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There are 62 federal death row prisoners in the US, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, including Islamist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three people dead.
The government has about 60 people on death row in federal prisons. Three of the executions are scheduled for December and two for January 2020.
The order follows the completion of an Obama-era review of lethal injections, which postponed federal executions until its conclusion.
The federal government would join eight states that have executed inmates or are planning to do so this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
At the state level, executions have declined greatly in recent years compared to the 1980s and 1990s.
But many see the use of the death penalty, at the federal level in particular, as arbitrary in terms of who ultimately faces that punishment - a sentiment that has affected its public support, said Robert Dunham, director for the Death Penalty Information Center.
In a July 25 statement released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said that Pope Francis in 2015 called for "the global abolition of the death penalty", which he said the U.S. bishops also have supported for many years.
Most recently in May, the department's Office of Legal Counsel took steps to make it easier for states to carry out executions by declaring that the Food and Drug Administration lacked the power to regulate lethal injection drugs.
Here's a look at the inmates who are scheduled to be executed beginning in December. "There have been shortages for at least one of those drugs", she says, and that scarcity has made it hard for the federal system to actually carry out death sentence.
"Given the problems that undermine the fairness and reliability of Danny Lee's conviction and death sentence, the government should not move forward with his execution", he said.