WASHINGTON: The Department of Justice (DOJ) has drafted new regulations potentially allowing for use of more methods for US executions, including firing squads, inhalation of poison gas and electrocution.
The amended rule which was published on Friday, allows the US government to conduction federal executions by lethal injection or through use of “any other manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence was imposed.”
There are some states in the US that allow executions through use of firing squads, inhalation of poison gas or death by electrocution but the matter is still unclear whether the Department of Justice will try to use any method other than lethal injection for executions in the future.
The new rules goes into effect on December 24th with five executions scheduled by the Department of Justice during the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency, including three just days before president-elect Joe Biden takes office.
According to a spokesman for the Department of Justice, the change was made to account to the fact that the Federal Death Penalty Act requires sentences be carried out in the “manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence is imposed,” and some of these states allow for methods other than the lethal injection.
The spokesman said that two executions that were scheduled in December would be carried by through use of lethal injection but no information was provided for the other three that are going to take place in January.
Trump’s administration is trying to push through a number of rule changes before leaves office in January and some of these, including the one pertaining to US executions will likely draw intense criticism from democrats and anti-death penalty advocates.
A spokesman for Mr Biden said earlier this month that the president-elect “opposes the death penalty now and in the future” and would work to end its use. However, it is still unclear whether the president-elect will pause executions in the US immediately after taking office.
Currently, the death row inmates in Florida can ask to be executed through electrocution while in Washington state, they have the option to be put to death by hanging.
It is pertinent to mention that Attorney general Willian Barr restarted federal executions this year under the Trump administration after 17-year hiatus.
President Trump believes in the death penalty and often spoken about capital punishment being a effective deterrent for some serious crimes, including mass shootings and killings of police officers.