Attorney General William Barr announced Thursday that the federal government will resume capital punishment of death row inmates after an effective moratorium on the federal death penalty. Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of five inmates convicted of murder in December and January.
The federal government has not executed a prisoner since 2003, although it has been discussed with regard to specific cases, including for white supremacist Dylann S. Roof, who perpetrated the 2015 Charleston church shooting, and for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber.
A Justice Department review of the drugs used to execute prisoners largely contributed to the moratorium. Although earlier this year, the department's Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion arguing the Food and Drug Administration does not have jurisdiction over the federal lethal injection process, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals,” Mr. Barr said in a statement on Thursday. “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 Attorney General has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt an Addendum, which, "replaces the three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug—pentobarbital." Although, according to CNN, integrating the updated protocol cannot happen overnight, as legal processes will require it go through the appropriate administrative procedures.
"Saying that you are going to adopt a protocol is not the same thing as having a protocol properly adopted through the required administrative procedures," Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the outlet. "You can't just say it and have it happen. There is a legal process for a protocol to go into effect and there is a legal process for challenging the protocol." Additionally, inmates will likely raise claims to delay the punishment.
Among those five inmates scheduled for execution include a white supremacist who killed a family of three, a man who raped and killed a 16-year-old girl, and a man who shot and killed a grandmother and her 9-year-old granddaughter.