US Department of Justice is reinstating controversial death penalty

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US Department of Justice is reinstating controversial death penalty

The Justice Department is reinstating the controversial punishment after a 15-year suspension.

CGTN’s Toby Muse reports.

The U.S. government announced it has scheduled the execution of five death row prisoners, the first to take place in December this year.

The five inmates are convicted of serious crimes, all involving the murder of children. Announcing the resumption of the execution policy, Attorney General William Barr said in a statement: “We owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

The last federal execution occurred in 2003. A series of lawsuits targeting the lethal injection drugs used in executions effectively suspended the practice. The five will be executed with the drug pentobarbital.

The vast majority of executions are carried out at the state level, where some 2,600 prisoners are waiting to die. About 60 inmates are on federal death row. Many opponents object to capital punishment are calling it morally wrong. Others say it discriminates against the most marginalized.

“There’s a saying that the death penalty is called capital punishment because if you don’t have the capital you get the punishment. And that’s borne out by who’s on death row. Almost everybody who is on death row is poor,” said Robert Brett Dunham the Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

U.S. President Donald Trump is a long-time supporter of the death penalty and a majority of Americans agree with him. The opposition has steadily grown since the mid-1990s. 21 states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. The rate of execution has slowed. Last year, 25 people were executed, a fraction of those killed in the late 1990s.