DONALD Trump’s government is going to start executing federal death-row inmates for the first time in nearly two decades.
Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of five inmates convicted of murder and other crimes.
The executions have been scheduled for December 2019 and January 2020.
Several US States have continued executing convicts at the state level but the federal government has refrained from doing so since 2003.
There are currently 62 individuals on federal death row, according to a tracker maintained by the Death Penalty Information Centre.
Possibly the most infamous of these is Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnev who along with his brother killed five and injured 264 people in 2013.
The department also announced a new execution protocol, replacing the three-drug cocktail previously used in federal executions with the single drug, pentobarbital.
The Supreme Court outlawed state and federal death penalty laws in the 1972 decision Furman v. Georgia.
But the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, and expanded by Congress in 1994 and some states re-wrote their laws to comply with the ruling.
No federal executions took place, however, until 2001, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.
Attorney General Barr said in a statement: “Congress has expressly authorised the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President.
“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 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.”
Executions have been scheduled for Daniel Lewis Lee, Lezmond Mitchell, Wesley Ira Purkey, Alfred Bourgeois, and Dustin Lee Honken, according to the Justice Department.
In a statement, Ruth Friedman, the director of the Federal Capital Habeas Project, said it was a “pervasive myth” that the federal death penalty was applied to only the worst offenders who committed a narrow class of crimes.
“In fact, the federal death penalty is arbitrary, racially-biased, and rife with poor lawyering and junk science.”
The Justice Department said each of the inmates had “exhausted their appellate and post-conviction remedies, and currently no legal impediments prevent their executions.”
The executions will take place at the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, in Terre Haute, Indiana.
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The Justice Department said that additional executions will be scheduled at a later date.
The announcement comes as a number of Democrats running for president have promised to do away with the death penalty altogether.
In 2016, the Democratic Party made abolishing the death penalty a part of its official platform.
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