The US government is set to carry out the death penalty for the first time in 16 years, William Barr, the attorney general, announced on Thursday, despite criticism of capital punishment as “immoral and deeply flawed”. The justice department scheduled the execution of five death row federal inmates for December and January. The government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988, the most recent of which occurred in 2003.
The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a prisoner sentenced to capital punishment “a painless death,” a divided Supreme Court said on Monday, paving the way for the execution of a convicted murderer who sought to die by lethal gas rather than lethal injection because of a rare medical condition. Russell Bucklew, 50, had argued that lethal injection might inflict undue agony by rupturing blood-filled tumors on his face, head, neck and throat caused by a congenital condition called cavernous hemangioma in violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment. Bucklew failed to show that lethal gas could be “readily implemented” as required under Supreme Court precedent, the court ruled.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign a sweeping order on Wednesday putting an executive moratorium on California’s troubled death penalty, thus ordering a reprieve for the 737 people on death row. The action suspends any further executions in California as long as Newsom is governor, his office said. But only California voters can repeal the death penalty, something they rejected narrowly three years ago.
Washington is now the 20th US state to abolish the death penalty after its Supreme Court ruled the punishment was applied in an ‘arbitrary and racially biased manner.’ Malaysia’s new government claims it will halt pending executions and abolish the death penalty for all crimes to move in line with ‘the rest of the world.’
The powerful opioid fentanyl was used in the execution of convicted murderer Carey Dean Moore on Tuesday in Nebraska in the state’s first execution since the death penalty ban was overturned in 2016. This was the first time fentanyl was used in a US execution. Moore did not pose a legal challenge to the execution.
Mark James Asay, a known white supremacist with a swastika tattoo has been scheduled to receive the death penalty, the first issued death sentence in 19 months in Florida. The death penalty has been active in Florida since 1976, with at least 18 black men being executed for killing a white man. The execution of a white man for killing a black man and the introduction of a new lethal injection drug never used in the U.S. before are both new to this execution.