The federal death penalty is rare compared to executions carried out by state governments, but US President Donald Trump is known to be a fan of the death penalty, suggesting last year that it should be brought back “into vogue.”
“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,” Barr said in the statement.
The statement names five federal death-row individuals whose executions have been scheduled for December 2019 and January 2020, including Daniel Lewis Lee, a member of a white supremacist group who murdered a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl.
The federal government has not executed death-row inmate for 16 years – and Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had ordered a broad review of capital punishment during his last term, including into issues and controversies surrounding the lethal injection.
Just days ago, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden – vice president under Obama – said he would scrap the federal death penalty if elected. Biden announced his new opposition to the death penalty citing 160 instances in which people have been executed but later exonerated.
The last federal execution took place in 2003 – and there are currently 62 people on federal death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
The DOJ statement said additional executions “will be scheduled at a later date.”