Federal executions to resume in US after nearly 2 decades

Federal executions in the US will resume after 16 years, local reports said citing Attorney General Bill Barr on Thursday.

Of the 60 death row inmates in federal prisons, five will face executions starting from December this year.

All the five people were convicted 15 years ago or more for murdering children.

The first to be executed will be Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist who murdered three of a family including an eight-year-old girl.

Lee, who was found guilty of murder in 1999, will be executed on December 9. Four other executions will take place at a later date.

Barr’s order says all executions have to be carried out with a single lethal injection of barbiturate phenobarbital instead of the three-drug combination using thiopental.

Barr defended his order, saying the justice department has to follow the rule of law and carry forward the sentence to ensure justice to the murder victims and their families.

Families of many murder victims, especially African Americans, are concerned as they feel capital punishment is losing its relevance amid steady fall in the number of executions and death-row inmates.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of death-row inmates has fallen for the 17th consecutive year in 2017.

President Donald Trump is a proponent of death penalty. His views on capital punishment became stronger after a mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh last year.

Barr’s order will not impact states each of which can make its own decision on capital punishment.

States carried out 25 executions last year. Fourteen of them have used pentobarbital in more than 200 executions since 2010, the justice department said.

Federal courts have upheld the use of pentobarbital in executions but legal challenges forced them to halt all executions in 2003.

Some 25 states, including Texas, Alabama and Florida carry out death penalty, while 21 others including New York have abolished it.

Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania and California have issued moratoriums on capital punishment.

Human rights and anti-death penalty groups are planning to legally challenge Barr’s order to resume the federal death penalty.