“It’s a pretty gruesome way to go out.”
From The New York Times:
The Justice Department has created new regulations allowing for the use of more methods for federal executions, including firing squad and electrocution.
The new rule, which is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, comes as the administration rushes to execute five more prisoners before the end of President Trump’s term. It is part of a spate of moves and rule-making processes before he leaves office.
Unlike in some of the final-hour decisions, the practical effect of the rule remains unclear. The Justice Department has not indicated that it plans to execute inmates by a manner other than lethal injection, which has been the only method of execution the federal government has used in decades. Although lethal injection has come under increasing legal assault, the Supreme Court has already rejected recent challenges to it presented by inmates on federal death row. And President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who can rescind the rule, has signaled his opposition to the federal death penalty.
Last week, the Justice Department announced that it plans to execute three more inmates on federal death row. If the administration does so, along with two other executions already scheduled, it will have put 13 prisoners to death since July, marking one of the deadliest periods in the history of federal capital punishment since at least 1927, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The rule, reported earlier by ProPublica, stipulates that the federal government may conduct executions by lethal injection “or by any other manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence was imposed or which has been designated by a court in accordance with” the law that governs implementation of the death sentence. It will go into effect 30 days after its scheduled publication on Friday, before some of the executions are set to take place.
…Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, noted that Mr. Biden could reverse the rule, but said that it represented a “symbolic” and “deeply practical” step by the department to carry out its five scheduled executions.
“It’s a pretty gruesome way to go out,” he said. “This is basically the attorney general doubling down on, you know, sort of making it possible to execute as many federal prisoners as he can before his tenure is over.”