Appeals Court Lifts Injunction on Federal Executions

Death Penalty Syringe

On Tuesday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to lift an injunction on federal executions, siding with Attorney General Barr's plan to carry out lethal injections at the federal level. While the ruling is a victory for the government, it does not mean executions can begin immediately. The appeals court sent the case back to a lower court, putting its own order on hold to allow lawyers for death row inmates to challenge it.

Last summer, Attorney General Barr announced that the government had adopted a new lethal injection protocol and set the dates for five federal inmates. But in November, the U.S. District Court issued an injunction blocking the executions, saying the government's single-drug lethal injection method was inconsistent with the 1994 Federal Death Penalty Act that required executions to be carried out in "manner prescribed by law of the state in which the sentence in imposed."

Federal executions are rare. The government has only put three defendants to death since reinstating the law in 1988, and has not carried out a federal execution since 2003.

April 14, 2020 - 8:13am

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