DOJ seeks to bring back shooting squads, electricity needed for executions

  • The Trump administration is in a hurry with a number of federal regulatory changes before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, ProPublica reported Wednesday.
  • One of the changes proposed by the Department of Justice would allow some federal death row inmates to be executed by lethal injection. Many states allow electric shock and shooting if a lethal injection is not available or if the prisoner prefers another method.
  • Eight federal death sentences have been carried out since the DOJ continued federal executions in July 2020, and five more federal executions were planned during Trump’s lame duck period.
  • As ProPublica noted, the rule change is unlikely to affect executions, as the remaining scheduled executions will have to be carried out by lethal injection before Biden, who opposes the use of the death penalty, takes office as president.
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The Trump administration is working to finalize a number of regulatory changes before President Donald Trump resigns next month, including one that could re-authorize the use of shooting squads and electric shocks in federal executions, ProPublica writes.

The proposed amendment to the rules entered into the Federal Register on 5 August by the Ministry of Justice will change the way those sentenced to death are executed.

As the proposal notes, the default method of federal executions is lethal injection, unless the judge expressly provides otherwise. But many states that have the death penalty allow executions by other means, including electric shock, shooting, or nitrogen hypoxia. For example, in December 2019, Tennessee executed a death sentence with electricity.

The amended rule would, in essence, allow federal executions to be carried out by methods other than lethal injections in states that allow for other ways of killing prisoners.

While lethal injection was originally presented as a more humane and less violent method of execution than the electric chair or shooting team, certain lethal injection drugs or problems with their administration led to complications and some spoiled injections that caused painful deaths for inmates.

The proposed rule amendment notes that “deaths from shooting and deaths from electric shock do not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments” according to the prevailing precedent of the Supreme Court. He also cited Bucklew v. Precythe and Glossip v. Gross cases in which those sentenced to death as infringing the Eighth Amendment disputed the use of lethal injections by states but were unsuccessful.

According to the DOJ, the proposed rule “ensures that the Department is authorized to apply the widest range of humane methods of enforcement permitted by law.”

But, as ProPublica noted, change can never change actual executions. All remaining federal executions planned before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20 must be carried out by lethal injection. Biden opposes the use of the death penalty and has indicated that his administration will not execute federal death row inmates.

So far, eight federally sentenced prisoners have been executed under the Trump government since the DOJ, which oversees the Federal Prison Bureau, reinstated federal executions of those sentenced to death in July 2019.

Convicted of killing the Arkanas family in 1996 in July 2020, Daniel Lewis Lee became the first federal death sentence to be executed in 17 years, and most recently Orlando Hall was executed on November 20 after receiving the 1994 death penalty. the abduction, rape and murder of a Texas teenager.

Five other detainees – Lisa Montgomery, Alfred Bourgeois, Brandon Bernard, Corey Johnson and Dustin Higgins – are to be executed now and by 20 January. Montgomery will be the first female federal prisoner to be executed in more than 60 years. Death Penalty Information Center.

The Trump administration, which carries out several federal executions during the transitional and lame duck periods, is extremely unusual and unprecedented, the Center said. He found that the Trump administration was the first since the outgoing administration of Grover Cleveland in 1889 to carry out a death sentence during a presidential transitional period.

In addition to the federal government, 28 states currently use the death penalty, while 22 states have legally abolished or issued moratoriums on its use on a Center-by-Center basis.

According to ProPublica, the Trump administration aims to make consequential regulatory changes in other areas of immigration, environmental policy, energy standards and water use, and regulation of major food businesses.