On Thursday the Department of Justice announced that for the first time in nearly two decades it will resume capital punishment, with Attorney General William Barr announcing the process for the execution of five death-row inmates is set to move forward. It will mark the first federal executions since 2003.
“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 a written statement released by the DOJ.
The first among the five new executions announced is Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted in 1999 of murdering family of three in Arkansas, including children. Notably all five death-row inmates now scheduled to face execution are child murderers.
“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,” Barr said further in his statement.
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The DOJ release indicated the Federal Bureau of Prisons will use a single drug, pentobarbital, for all federal executions, currently used by a number of states for lethal injections.
“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,” Barr’s statement continued.
The five inmates are scheduled for executions to take place at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, reportedly in December and early January.
Prior to stopping federal execution cases in 2003, perhaps the more notorious criminal to be put to death was Timothy McVeigh in 2001, for killing 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing, and further recent death row cases awaiting execution include Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2015 for the Boston Marathon bombing, and white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2017 for the Charleston church shooting.
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