Justice Department seeks to authorize firing squad executions

Federal officials make moves to expand the ways that federal death row inmates can be put to death

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With a new presidential administration imminent, the current U.S. Department of Justice is scrambling to push through several policy changes before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in in January.

According to CNN, one such change involves expanding methods of execution of federal death row convicts.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has teamed up with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to attempt to expand the ways that federal death row inmates can be put to death. One of the proposed methods is death by firing squad, while another is to re-introduce electrocution.

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Currently, five federal convicts are scheduled to be executed between now and Jan. 20. Four of the five are already confirmed for lethal injection. Approval of the amendment to the “Manner of Federal Executions” was published as a way to grant federal prosecutors more choices of execution methods to avoid any delays by states that do not have lethal injection as an execution option.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr (Photo by Jeff Roberson – Pool/Getty Images)

Before Barr ordered a string of executions in 2019, the U.S. had not used capital punishment since 2003, according to CNN. Eight federal death row inmates have been executed this year.

With the five forthcoming scheduled executions, the number will increase to 13 in only a six-month window.

Included among the five inmates scheduled to death are Brandon Bernard, who will be youngest to die in 70 years, and Lisa Montgomery, the first woman to be executed in that same period.

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Biden campaigned against federal execution during his presidential bid, and is likely to do away with the form of punishment after he takes office.

Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham stated to CNN that the last time so many federal executions took place during a presidential transition period was in late 1884 as the nation was transitioning from President Chester A. Arthur to President Grover Cleveland‘s administration.

“What is clear is that this administration wants these prisoners dead before Joe Biden takes office,” Dunham said.

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