The federal death penalty is making a comeback after Attorney General Bill Barr ordered it to be reinstated. But two Black Democrats are not OK with it.
Barr made the order Thursday, the Department of Justice announced July 25. As a result, executions have been ordered for five death row inmates who were convicted of murder, and in some cases torturing and raping children and the elderly.
In a statement, Barr said, “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.
“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,” he continued. “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 scheduled executions are set to take place between December 2019 and January 2020, the DOJ news release states. Rather than the previous three-drug procedure, the Addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol that Barr ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt will conduct federal executions using one drug: pentobarbital.
When the initial federal execution, which was never formally outlawed, occurs at the end of the year, it will be the first time one has been conducted since 2003. At the time, Louis Jones Jr. was punished by death after raping and murdering a 19-year-old female soldier, NBC News reported.
Presently, there are 62 inmates on death row, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center stated in a compiled list. Among the inmates are white supremacist Dylann Roof, who was sentenced in 2017 after shooting and killing nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
In response to the reviving of the federal death penalty, which has not been practiced in more than two decades, some have expressed displeasure.
“The same #racist rhetoric coming from the occupant of the
@WhiteHouse, who called for the execution of the #Exonerated5, is what led to this racist, vile policy. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. The cruelty is the point – this is by design,” Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in a tweet.
“Donald Trump took out a full-page ad to ‘Bring Back The Death Penalty’ to execute five Black and Latino teens who were wrongly accused in the Central Park Five case. All five kids were exonerated but Trump never apologized. Now he wants to bring back the federal death penalty.”
“The death penalty is a racist and error-prone practice that doesn’t deter crime. I have long opposed this barbaric practice. The US hasn’t executed a federal inmate in nearly 20 years and we shouldn’t start now,” tweeted California Rep. Barbara Lee.