New DOJ rules could allow shootings, electric shocks and toxic gas for executions


The Department of Justice is amending protocols to allow fatal gases, electric shocks and shootings for the purpose of death, as five federal prisoners are expected to be executed before the date of enlistment.

The new rule was published in the federal register on Friday. It states that federal executions shall be carried out by lethal injection “or in any other manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence was imposed or by a court” in accordance with the laws relating to the death penalty.

“If the applicable law provides that the prisoner may choose between several methods of enforcement, the director or his representative shall notify the prisoner of this possibility,” the rule states.

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The rules take effect 30 days from Friday.

Currently, only lethal injection is used in federal executions, but other states give death row inmates the option of other forms of execution.

In Florida, for example, an inmate can explicitly request to die from an electric shock, and in Washington, inmates can be asked to die by hanging. In Utah, prisoners convicted before May 2004 can choose a shooting unit. State laws there also allow the use of a shooting team if lethal injectable drugs are not available.

Procurement of drugs suitable for lethal injections has arisen in several states.

Following the 2014 state execution in Oklahoma, President Barack Obama instructed the Department of Justice to review the death penalty and issues related to the lethal injection.

The Federal Prison Complex in Terre Haute, India. The Department of Justice is quietly amending its enforcement protocols, no longer requiring federal death sentences to be executed by lethal injection, and clearing the way before other methods, such as troops and poison gas, are fired. (AP photo / Michael Conroy, file)

After a 17-year ban, the Trump administration continued federal executions in July 2019. Lisa Montgomery, 52, is one of the federal inmates planned for execution and the only woman on the federal death sentence. His execution is scheduled for December 8.

She was convicted of the 2004 murder of a pregnant woman.

Brandon Bernard, convicted of the 1999 murder of two youth ministers, is scheduled to die on December 10th. In a court filing last week, the Department of Justice announced that Alfred Bourgeois is scheduled to execute December 11, with Cory Johnson and Dustin scheduled. Higgs on January 14 and 15.

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Prosecutors say Bourgeois tortured, sexually molested and then beat his 2 1/2-year-old daughter to death.

Johnson was one of three crack cocaine traffickers convicted of a series of murders. Prosecutors say he killed seven people to spread the territory of a Richmond Vojvodina gang and to silence informants. His defendants, members of the same drug gang, are also sentenced to death.

Four of the five detainees, who must die before President Trump’s term expires, are executed by lethal injection at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, India.

The method of Higgs’ death, convicted of the abduction and murder of three women, has not been made public. A Orlando Hall federal prisoner convicted of killing a 16-year-old girl was executed last week.

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President-elect Joe Biden has voiced his opposition to the death penalty and will work to end the practice, a spokesman said. The opposition stems in part from the wrongly convicted prisoners sentenced to death.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.