DOJ pushes through death penalty protocols, allowing for other means of execution

29 Novembre, 2020, 16:50 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Federal_Executions_00138

US President Donald Trump is paving the way for additional methods of executing prisoners who have been sentenced to death in the United States, according to new government documents.

The amended rule, published on Friday in the USA government's Federal Register, allows the U.S. government to conduct executions by lethal injection or use "any other manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence was imposed".

The official said the rule change, first proposed in August, was meant so that federal executions would be carried out in line with state law, adding "the federal government will never execute an inmate by firing squad or electrocution unless the relevant state has itself authorized that method of execution".

Federal executions are usually carried about by lethal injection; however, judges may permit other methods if he/she believes are more appropriate. Therefore, states are permitted to use alternative methods when lethal injections can not be obtained on the scheduled execution date.

The rule change is likely to draw criticism from civil liberties and anti-death penalty advocates who view firing squads and other methods as inhumane, though its practical impact remains to be seen.

It's worth noting that Biden, who once championed the death penalty, may rescind the rule once he takes office on January 20.

"Barr restarted federal executions this year after a 17-year hiatus", AP wrote. It allows the US government to conduct executions by lethal injection or use of "any other manner prescribed by law of the state in which the sentence was imposed".

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Before the Trump administration resumed executions this year, the federal government had put only three inmates to death since 1988.

All of the convicts were put to death via a lethal injection of a drug called pentobarbital, but the substance can be hard and expensive to obtain.

The US Department of Justice this year has put to death more people than during the previous half-century, despite waning public support from Democrats and Republicans for its use.

"Alabama joined Oklahoma and MS in 2018 approving the use of nitrogen gas to execute prisoners, allowing the state to asphyxiate condemned inmates with the gas in some cases", AP noted. "In Florida, for example, an inmate can specifically ask to be put to death by electrocution and in Washington state, inmates can ask to be put to death by hanging".

"In some states, inmates can choose the method of their execution", AP continued. In Utah, prisoners sentenced before May 2004 can choose to be killed by a firing squad.

The US Justice Department is quietly amending its execution protocols, to possibly end the use of lethal injection - and clear the way for firing squads and poison gas. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

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