The Justice Department has announced that the federal death penalty will be reinstated more than 15 years after the last federal execution.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has, at Attorney General William Barr's direction, scheduled executions for five death-row inmates convicted of murder for December and January, and additional federal executions will be later scheduled, the Justice Department said in a statement. The last federal execution took place in 2003, NBC News reports.
"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 on Thursday. "...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."
President Trump has previously expressed support for capital punishment and earlier this year tweeted his disapproval when the governor of California paused the use of the death penalty in the state, with Trump writing, "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!" The Justice Department's announcement quickly earned pushback from 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who tweeted, "There's enough violence in the world. The government shouldn’t add to it. When I am president, we will abolish the death penalty."