Federal Death Penalty on Hold as Lethal Injection Protocol Reviewed


There are 58 people on federal death row in Terre Haute, In. None appears likely to face the ultimate punishment, at least not in President Obama’s current term, NPR reports. The Justice Department is reviewing its lethal injection protocols because of a shortage of a key drug. While that study is underway, authorities have backed away from setting execution dates.

Over the last few years, a quiet revolution has overtaken the death penalty debate. Like many trends, this one started in the states and moved to the federal level, says death penalty expert David Bruck of Washington and Lee University. “I think it’s fair to say that the federal government seeks the death penalty less often now than it did five or 10 years ago, but that’s simply part of a national trend,” he says, noting that Virginia has added only one person to death row in three and a half years. The federal prison system told a judge last month they’re still working through changes to the execution protocol because of a drug shortage and the changes aren’t final.

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