The US Department of Justice has broadened the rules governing executions to allow for greater rage in methods, including firing squads and electrocution, as five federal inmates face the death penalty before dedication day .
The amended rule was listed in the Federal Register on Friday, allowing the government “Greater flexibility” execute the death penalty by any method “Prescribed by the law of the State in which [a] penalty was imposed. While lethal injection remains the most common means of execution – and previously the only one allowed by federal regulation – the new rule will allow states that allow other methods, including death by electrocution, nitrogen gas , hanging or firing squad.
The proposed rule change was originally introduced in August – with the DOJ only accepting public comment for 30 days, half of the period typically allotted – and passed a White House review earlier this month, according to ProPublica, which was the first to report on the regulatory change.
Michael Cargill joins Owen in delivering the news of a federal lawsuit against bump stocks that could go to the United States Supreme Court.
While five federal prisoners are currently due to be executed before President Donald Trump steps down at the end of January, the rule change is unlikely to affect their cases, as each is already set to receive a lethal injection.
Before Trump took power, the last federal execution was in 2003 – Louis Jones, was convicted of murder and kidnapping – but the current administration has revived the custom. The government has authorized capital punishment for 13 detainees so far in 2020, including the five still in detention, all approved in the past six months. Although state governments routinely sentence inmates to death every year, executions have been much rarer at the federal level, with a total of only 45 since 1927, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Presumed President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to end the death penalty for federal crimes, saying his administration will not approve any executions, which means Friday’s rule change may never be put into practice. This position reflects growing calls from fellow Democrats to abolish the death penalty altogether, arguing that the practice is cruel and archaic.
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