U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to resume capital punishment in five cases following an almost 20-year lapse.
The move will help bring justice to “victims of the most horrific crimes,” officials said.
Directing the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt a proposed Addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol clears the way for the federal government to resume capital punishments, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.
Bar has also directed Hugh Hurwitz, acting director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), to schedule executions of five death-row inmates convicted of murdering, and in some cases torturing and raping, children and elderly women.
These convicted killers are among the “worst” individuals, Barr said.
With encouragement from Congress, Barr said officials can now help to bring the victims and their families justice.
“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,” he said. “Under administration of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murders, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding. 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.”
Officials said the Federal Execution Protocol Addendum closely mirror protocols used in other states including Grorgia, Missouri and Texas, replacing the three-drug procedure previously used in federal executions with a single drug – pentobarbital.
Since 2010, 14 states have used pentobarbital in more than 200 executions.
Hurwitz ultimately adopted the addendum to the federal execution protocol and has since scheduled the executions of Daniel Lee Lewis, Lezmond Mitchell, Wesley Ira Purkey, Alfred Bourgeois and Dustin Lee Honken.
Lee was a member of a white supremacist group who murdered a family of three. After robbing and shooting the victims, including an 8-year-old girl, with a stun gun, Lee covered the family members’ heads with plastic bags, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighted down each victim with rocks, and threw the family into the Illinois bayou.
A jury in the Eastern District of Arkansas found Lee guilty on May 4, 1999.
Lee is now scheduled to be executed on Dec. 9.
Mitchell was found guilty in May 2003 of stabbing a 63-year-old woman to death and forcing her 9-year-old granddaughter to ride alongside her lifeless body for about 40 miles before proceeding to kill the young girl.
Following the 40-mile drive, Mitchell “then slit the girl’s throat twice, crushed her had with 20-pound rocks, and severed and buried both victims’ heads and hands.”
Mitchell is now scheduled to be executed on Dec. 11.
Purkey was convicted in November 2003 of violently raping and killing a 16-year-old girl. Records show Purkey “dismembered, burned, and dumped the young girl’s body in a septic pond.”
Prior to this conviction, Purkey was found guilty of murder after using a claw hammer “to bludgeon to death an 80-year-old woman.”
Purkey is now scheduled to be executed on Dec. 13.
Bourgeois was convicted of murder in March 2004. Records show Bourgeois “physically and emotionally tortured, sexually molested and then beat to death his (2-year-old) daughter.”
Bourgeois is now scheduled to be executed on Jan. 13.
Honken was convicted of murder, among other charges, in October 2014 after he shot and killed five people – two men who planned to testify against him as well as a woman and her three children.
Honken is now scheduled to be executed on Jan. 15.
According to a DOJ press release, each of these inmates has “exhausted their appellate and post-conviction remedies, and currently no legal impediments prevent their executions, which will take place at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana. Additional executions will be scheduled at a later date.”