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U.S. Justice Department resumes use of the death penalty, schedules five executions

U.S. Justice Department resumes use of the death penalty, schedules five executions
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General William Barr at the "2019 Prison Reform Summit" in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo -
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Yuri Gripas(Reuters)
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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday it was reinstating a two-decades long dormant policy to resume the federal government’s use of capital punishment and immediately scheduled the executions for five death row federal inmates.

“Congress has expressly authorised the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. 

“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.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has called for increasing use of the death penalty for drug traffickers and mass shooters.

The Justice Department said it has scheduled executions for five federal inmates who have been convicted of horrific murders and sex crimes.

Those inmates include Daniel Lewis Lee, a white supremacist who was convicted in Arkansas for murdering a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl.

Another one of the five is Lezmond Mitchell, who was found guilty by a jury in Arizona of stabbing a 63-year-old grandmother and forcing her young granddaughter to sit next to her lifeless body on a car journey before slitting the girl’s throat.

“Each of these inmates has exhausted their appellate and post-conviction remedies,” the department said, adding that all five executions will take place at the U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute in Indiana.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sonya Hepinstall)

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