WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal government will start executing death row inmates once again later this year.
It has been 16 years since a federal prisoner has been put to death. But now, the attorney general says victims’ families deserve to see their killers’ sentences carried out.
Attorney general William Barr says the Justice Department is ending an informal moratorium on executions and five federal death row convicted murderers are now scheduled to be put to death
In a statement, Barr said, “We owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
There are at least 60 federal inmates on death row, including Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Charleston church shooter Dylan Roof.
The change in policy comes as the number of executions has declined in the U.S. There were 25 executions—at the state level—in the U.S. last year. 20 years ago there were 98.
Difficulty obtaining the drugs used in executions and the ultimate exoneration of some death row inmates have caused some states to rethink the practice.
21 states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. Opponents say it’s racially biased and sometimes leads to innocent people being killed. But the Trump administration has been pushing to reinstate capital punishment at the federal level and the Bureau of Prisons has been ordered to create a new protocol for lethal injections, using just one drug, pentobarbital, to put people to death. In the past, a combination of three drugs had been used.
All federal executions will take place at a federal prison in Indiana. All five scheduled to be executed are serving time for killing children. The executions are slated to take place in December and January.