US Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Thursday, the US federal government will resume capital punishment after a 16-year hiatus and set deadlines for five convicted murderers.
Following President Donald Trump’s call for tougher sentences for drug traffickers and mass shooters, Barr ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt a new lethal injection protocol to clear the way forward for the execution of death sentences.
Bill Barr said in a statement, “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,”
The government has about 60 people on death row in federal prisons.
But the debate over the methods of execution and the controversy over drugs used, as well as the reluctance of Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama to execute death sentences, mean that no federal prisoner has been executed since 2003.
Bill Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to execute a single lethal injection of phenobarbital, a barbiturate, to replace the previous three-drug cocktails using thiopental.
The Justice Department said, “Since 2010, 14 states have used pentobarbital in over 200 executions, and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have repeatedly upheld the use of pentobarbital in executions as consistent with the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which bars cruel and unusual punishment, ”
On Barr’s orders, the Federal Bureau of Prisons scheduled executions of five people, all of whom were convicted 15 years ago or more for brutal murders involved children.