A two-decades-long inactive policy was resumed on Thursday by the US Justice Department which allowed the federal government’s use of capital punishment and immediately scheduled the executions for five death row federal prisoners.
Attorney General William Barr stated that “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.”
“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 statement added.
President Trump has directed for increasing the use of the death penalty for drug traffickers and mass shooters. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to investigate the necessary steps to stop the use of the death penalty, said a Justice Department official.
Sessions called on federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty when bringing cases against drug dealers and traffickers. Two months before, the Legal Counsel department declared the Food and Drug Administration lacked the power to regulate lethal injection drugs which made it easier for the states to carry out the executions.
Currently, there are 62 federal convicts on death row including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who planted a deadly bomb at the Boston Marathon in 2013. The Justice Department said that it has scheduled executions for five federal inmates who have been convicted of horrific murders and sex crimes, with more planned in the future.
Among those five Lezmond Mitchell is an inmate who was found guilty by a jury in Arizona of stabbing a 63-year-old grandmother. Daniel Lewis Lee, was convicted in Arkansas for murdering a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl. Wesley Ira Purkey, who raped and murdered a teenage girl, Alfred Bourgeois, who sexually molested and killed his young daughter, and Dustin Lee Honken, who shot and killed five people.