Washington, DC – The U.S. federal government announced on Thursday that it will resume carrying out capital punishment sentences for the first time in nearly two decades.
Attorney General William Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to adopt a proposed addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol, which enabled the scheduling of executions to proceed, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) news release.
Under the addendum, the BOP will use a single drug – pentobarbital – instead of the three-drug procedure that was formerly utilized.
“Since 2010, 14 states have used pentobarbital in over 200 executions, and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have repeatedly upheld the use of pentobarbital in executions as consistent with the Eighth Amendment,” the DOJ noted in the release.
Barr also directed BOP Acting Director Hugh Hurwitz to schedule executions for “five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, the most vulnerable in our society – children and the elderly,” the DOJ said in the release.
All five of the inmates have exhausted their appeals, and there are no “legal impediments” that could prevent their death sentences from being carried out, the agency noted.
Dustin Honken fatally shot two men who were slated to testify against him, as well as a single mother and her daughters, who were six and 10 years old.
Honken was convicted of five counts of murder during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise in 2004, and was sentenced to death.
His execution has been scheduled for Jan. 15, 2020.
Alfred Bourgeois was convicted of beating his two-year-old daughter to death after sexually molesting and torturing her.
He was sentenced to death, and his execution has been scheduled for Jan. 13, 2020.
In 2003, Wesley Purkey was convicted of beating an 80-year-old woman to death with a claw hammer.
He also “violently raped and murdered” a 16-year-old girl, and proceeded to dismember and burn her body before he dumped it into a septic pond, according to the release.
Purkey was sentenced to death after being convicted of kidnapping a child resulting in the child’s death, and is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 13.
Lezmond Mitchell was convicted of stabbing a 63-year-old woman to death, then forcing her nine-year-old granddaughter to ride in a car next to the woman’s body for over a half hour.
Mitchell subsequently slit the little girl’s throat twice, then “crushed her head with 20-pound rocks,” the DOJ said.
The killer severed the victims’ hands and heads, then buried them.
His execution has been scheduled for Dec. 11.
White supremacist Daniel Lee shocked a family of three with a stun gun during a robbery, then wrapped their heads in plastic, weighed them down with rocks, and tossed them into the Illinois bayou.
One of the victims was just eight years old.
Lee was convicted on a slew of offenses, including three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, and was sentenced to death in 1999.
His execution has been scheduled to take place on Dec. 9.
“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Barr said in the release.
“Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding,” the attorney general continued. “The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
Additional executions will be scheduled, according to the DOJ.