ATTORNEY GENERAL William Barr on Thursday announced that the Justice Department will resume executing federal death row inmates.
Barr, in a statement, said that he has directed the Bureau of Prisons to carry out capital punishment after what the Justice Department characterized as “a nearly two decade lapse,” and specifically instructed the bureau’s acting director to schedule the execution by lethal injection of five death-row inmates.
“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 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 federal government last executed a death row inmate in March 2003: Louis Jones, a Gulf War veteran convicted of kidnapping and murdering a female soldier in 1995.
The move Thursday was widely anticipated. The Justice Department in March issued a legal opinion arguing that the Food and Drug Administration does not have the authority to regulate drugs used in lethal injections, a stance that seemed designed to clear the way for more executions by easing access to such drugs.