The US federal government is to resume executing death row inmates for the first time since 2003, ending an informal moratorium even as the nation sees a broad shift away from capital punishment.
Attorney General William Barr instructed the Bureau of Prisons to schedule executions starting in December for five men, all accused of murdering children. Although the death penalty remains legal in 30 states, executions on the federal level are rare.
“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,” Mr Barr said.
The move is likely to stir up fresh interest in an issue that has largely lain dormant in recent years, adding a new front to the culture battles that President Donald Trump is already waging on matters such as abortion and immigration in the lead-up to the 2020 elections.
Most Democrats oppose capital punishment. Vice President Joe Biden this week shifted to call for the elimination of the federal death penalty after years of supporting it.
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