Attorney General William Barr announced on Thursday that the federal government will resume capital punishment. Officials have already scheduled the executions of five death-row inmates.

The federal government has not executed anyone since 2003 since the DOJ has continued an investigation into the drugs used to put those inmates to death.

The DOJ wrote in a press release:

“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,” Attorney General Barr said. “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 Execution Protocol Addendum, which closely mirrors protocols utilized by several states, including currently Georgia, Missouri, and Texas, replaces the three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug—pentobarbital. Since 2010, 14 states have used pentobarbital in over 200 executions, and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have repeatedly upheld the use of pentobarbital in executions as consistent with the Eighth Amendment.

The federal government has tried to execute inmates like Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Dylann Roof, the man who killed nine black people at a church in South Carolina.

Since 1927, the government has executed 37 people. Federal death row has around 60 inmates.

One DOJ official explained Barr chose the first five inmates by picking those “he found particularly heinous and whose victims he viewed as especially vulnerable.” The official did not specify why the executions will take place in a six-week span in December and January even though officials have nothing standing in their way.

The DOJ listed the five inmates in the press release. Barr did not choose Tsarnaev or Roof.

Several states have chosen to use a single-drug for executions instead of the old three-drug cocktail. The drugmakers who supplied the three-drug cocktail stopped selling the item, which made it hard for states to perform the death penalty.

While the federal government will resume the death penalty, the country has 21 states that outlawed the death penalty. New Hampshire recently took this route in May.

Axios reported that a Gallup tracker showed 56% of Americans favor the death penalty. While that group remains the majority, the number is down from 80% in 1994.

 
 
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