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Rule change means federal executions could happen by firing squad, electrocution

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Posted at 12:09 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 14:09:52-05

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — An upcoming rule change at the U.S. Department of Justice means federal inmate executions, which are currently carried out by lethal injection could happen by other means, such as a firing squad or electrocution.

Currently, all federal executions are done via lethal injection unless a court specifically orders otherwise. The rule change gives the federal government greater flexibility to execute people by other means.

The change states that federal executions are to be carried out by lethal injection “or by any other manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence was imposed or which has been designated by a court.”

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, all states that allow the death penalty authorize a lethal injection method. Nine states allow electrocution, seven allow lethal gas and three allow a firing squad. Most states that allow methods other than lethal injection do so only under the provision that the injection is found to be unconstitutional, unavailable or impractical.

The DOJ rule change goes into effect on Dec. 24, before three more federal inmates are scheduled to be executed. Inmates are scheduled to be executed on Jan. 12, Jan. 14 and Jan. 15.

If executions by other means will happen, it’s unlikely they will happen at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Terre Haute, where federal executions typically take place. The DOJ notice states that the Terre Haute complex is equipped for carrying out executions only by lethal injection. If another method is used, it may happen somewhere else.

The federal government has executed 10 people in 2020.

Click here to read more about the rule change.

This story was originally published by Matt McKinney on WRTV in Indianapolis.