By Mac Molli
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to resume allowing the federal government to use capital punishment after a nearly two decade lapse, bringing justice to victims of the most horrific crimes. The U.S. government hasn’t executed a prisoner since 2003, but the attorney general announced that five inmates will be put to death starting in December. “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.”
There are five inmates being sent to death row at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana between December 2019 through January 2020, including: Daniel Lewis Lee, Lezmond Mitchell, Wesley Ira Purkey, Alfred Bourgeois, and Dustin Lee Honken, all of whom were convicted on murder charges. William Barr said in a statement, “Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals. 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.” He added he changed the three-drug procedure used for federal executions to pentobarbital, since the previous procedure had many botched executions and led to lawsuits. Barr failed to mention why the Trump administration decided to reinstate executions but the Justice Department filed a notice last Thursday in a case to move forward with the drug pentobarbital.
President Trump has supported the death penalty for some time, claiming drug dealers should be executed during a speech last year in New Hampshire. Many democrats criticized the decision including California Senator Kamala Harris who called capital punishment “immoral and deeply flawed.’ With pressure building to replace capital punishment with life in prison, twenty-one states have outlawed the death penalty. Some civil rights groups have brought up the racial disparity among inmates on death row, arguing capital punishment was disproportionate towards black men. Advocates have also argued against state and federal governments that the practice is inhumane, since botched executions where the drugs used were ineffective or caused severe suffering before death occurred.
The Supreme Court ended last month and featured several clashes debating if inmates can challenge the use of the chemicals used in lethal injections on the grounds that they can cause intense pain. Back in 2015, the Supreme Court examined if lethal injection was unconstitutionally cruel, the justices upheld the use of lethal injection, but in a dissent, Justice Breyer urged the Supreme Court to reexamine the constitutionality of the death penalty.