Justice Department to Resume Federal Executions
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced Thursday that it will resume capital punishment for the first time in nearly two decades.
In a written statement, the Department said Attorney General William Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt an amended protocol clearing the way for the execution of inmates convicted of capital crimes.
Barr further directed Hugh Hurwitz, acting director of the Bureau of Prisons, to schedule the executions of five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, children and the elderly.
“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Barr said in the statement.
“Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding,” the attorney general said. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
If carried out, the federally sanctioned executions of the five men will be the first since 2003.
Only three federal executions have taken place since 1988, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has adopted a regulation that will require federal authorities to use a single drug, pentobarbital, in federal executions, according to the DOJ statement.
Pentobarbital is used by several states for lethal injections.
Four states have declared a moratorium on executions, as wrongful convictions have also been spotlighted by groups like the Innocence Project, which have secured the release of a number of death-row inmates in recent years.
Those states are California, Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
In implementing California’s moratorium in March, Governor Gavin Newsom also announced that he was withdrawing the state’s execution protocol—the administrative plan by which executions are carried out—and was closing down the state’s execution chamber.
In his executive order imposing the moratorium, Newsom said, “I will not oversee the execution of any person while Governor.”
The order granted a reprieve to the 737 prisoners currently on California’s death row.
In The News
RICHMOND, Va, - Virginia’s General Assembly passed a jury sentencing reform bill this week that is revolutionary for the state but is already being done nearly everywhere else. The bill allows juries to decide whether a criminal defendant is guilty but requires judges to set the... Read More
SAN JOSE, Calif. - When the push to eliminate California's cash bail system began in the state Legislature several years ago, the battle lines were clearly drawn. On one side were civil rights groups and criminal justice reform advocates arguing that cash bail is unjust because it allows wealthy... Read More
DALLAS — The Pakistani immigrant was desperate. COVID-19 was spreading through the Prairieland compound, an isolated immigrant detention center about an hour southwest of Dallas. The diabetic man’s time in the facility became too much. He made a tough decision: Rather than suffer longer in detention... Read More
After nearly 20 years of disappointment and dead ends, authorities charged two men with murder in the cold-case killing of hip-hop pioneer Jam Master Jay, who was gunned down in his Queens music studio in 2002 during what prosecutors described as a drug-related homicide. Ronald “Tinard”... Read More
LOS ANGELES — Early on a Thursday morning in February, two men in suits rapped on the door of the South Los Angeles apartment that Gadseel Quiñonez shares with his little brother. The men were from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Professional Standards Bureau — the... Read More
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court grilled former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s lawyer about his claim that a trial-court judge has no choice but to grant the U.S. Justice Department’s surprise motion to dismiss the criminal case. During a rare review by the full appellate... Read More