The last federal execution was in 2003, more than fifteen years ago. The Trump administration, along with its henchman, Attorney General William Barr, announced today that the Bureau of Prisons will immediately reinstate executions. The first five are “convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society — children and the elderly” according to the directive sent from Barr to the Bureau.
Donald Trump has called for the reinstatement of the death penalty. The new method of execution that was adopted is the Federal Execution Protocol Addendum that “replaces the three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug—pentobarbital.” The announcement and change in policy likely will reignite discussions and debates in the United States over the use of capital punishment and methods of execution. Some have asserted that the chemical application can lead to pain and suffering and cruel punishment methods.
The number of executions nationwide has decreased over the last several years. Barr stated that the time was now to start federal capital punishment again, noting: “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”
Like everything in this administration, the timing of this announcement is suspect. After a day that (despite GOP spin) conclusively confirmed to the United States and the world that Donald Trump is a bad man who will not escape justice, this announcement came out one day later.