The death penalty, a punishment not universally accepted, has been a political hot potato for a very long time in the United States. This nation is one of the few in what is known as the west to still have death as a legal ramification to certain crimes. After being reinstated once legally, the death penalty was suppressed for sixteen years by Departments of Justice both reluctant and refusing to use it.
On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr issued a directive to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to not only resume using the death penalty but to schedule the executions of five federal inmates sentenced to die for their crimes of murder in the federal facility in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The executions are slated to take place in December 2019 and January 2020.
“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,” Barr said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
At this time, there are sixty-two inmates on death row in the federal system. The states that still have death penalties on the books add far more to the total of people sentenced to die who are languishing in the system, but the federal government has not put anyone to death, according to reports, since 2003.
The list of current inmates includes convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof.
The federal inmates whose executions have been scheduled are Daniel Lewis Lee, a member of a white supremacist group convicted of killing a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl; Lezmond Mitchell, convicted of stabbing to death a 63-year-old woman; Wesley Ira Purkey, convicted of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl; Alfred Bourgeois, convicted of sexually molesting and beating to death his 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter; and Dustin Lee Honken, convicted of shooting five people to death.
This news is bound to cause ripples of additional lawsuits to get the orders blocked.