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article imageJudge orders federal executions halted over use of one drug

By Karen Graham     Nov 21, 2019 in Politics
A judge blocked the federal government from carrying out four federal executions scheduled to begin in December, halting the Justice Department's plans to reinstate the death penalty.
In a ruling issued in Washington D.C., U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, in a 15-page ruling halted the execution of four men scheduled to be put to death at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, effectively halting the Justice Department's plans to reinstate the death penalty, reports NBC News.
"The public interest is not served by executing individuals before they have had the opportunity to avail themselves of legitimate procedures to challenge the legality of their executions," wrote Judge Chutkan, according to CNN News.
A fifth death row inmate, a Native-American scheduled to be executed in December was blocked in October by a federal appeals court so it could consider his argument that he wasn't allowed to question jurors for potential racial bias.
DOJ Federal Execution Protocol
The halt to the executions centers around an order issued by Attorney General William Barr in late July this year that directed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule the execution of five inmates after adopting an updated execution protocol. The executions would have been the first at the federal level in nearly 16 years.
Under AG Barr's direction, the Bureau of Prisons adopted a new Federal Execution Protocol Addendum which "replaces the three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug—pentobarbital," the Justice Department announced.
In her ruling late Wednesday, Chutkan wrote that Barr's Federal Execution Protocol Addendum conflicts with a 1994 federal law that specifies that federal executions must use the method "prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed."
“There is no statute that gives the [Bureau of Prisons] or DOJ the authority to establish a single implementation procedure for all federal executions,” Chutkan added, reports Politico.
As for the Attorney General's rush to schedule the executions so quickly, Chutkan wrote, “While the government does have a legitimate interest in the finality of criminal proceedings, the eight years that it waited to establish a new protocol undermines its arguments regarding the urgency and weight of that interest."
More about federal executions, Department of justice, pentobarbital, three drug combo, helt to all executions
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