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Federal death penalty back on hold

by Harvest Prude
Posted 11/22/19, 12:03 pm

WASHINGTON—A judge has blocked the Trump administration’s plans to resume federal executions for the first time in 16 years. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan blocked the scheduled executions of four death row inmates. U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he plans to appeal the order.

Why did the judge block the executions? Chutkan said the Federal Death Penalty Act requires the Bureau of Prisons to follow the execution procedures of the state in which an inmate was convicted. The federal government does not have the authority to “establish a single implementation procedure for all federal executions,” she said. The U.S. government has not executed a prisoner since 2003. President Barack Obama ordered a review of federal execution procedures in 2014. In July, Barr announced the Department of Justice would resume executions with pentobarbital, a new, one-drug protocol used in some death penalty states but not all. About 60 inmates are on federal death row.

Dig deeper: Read Rachel Lynn Aldrich’s report in Compassion about the reactions to the U.S. government reviving the death penalty.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.

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  • Big Jim
    Posted: Fri, 11/22/2019 05:23 pm

    I am wondering how a District level judge has the "power" to issue a ruling that has a nationwide footprint. Even the Circuit Court of Appeals decisions are limited to their area of the U.S. And the Circuit Courts are a higher level court than the District Courts. This has been happening with regularity in many cases during the Trump Administration. I thought the Supreme Court was the only one with national authority? Maybe a Constitutional law expert can weigh in?