New rule would allow U.S. to use more methods for executions

Last week, the Justice Department announced that it plans to execute three more inmates on federal death row. If the administration does so, along with two other executions already scheduled, it will have put 13 prisoners to death since July, marking one of the deadliest periods in the history of federal capital punishment since at least 1927, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The rule, reported earlier by ProPublica, stipulates that the federal government may conduct executions 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 in accordance with” the law that governs implementation of the death sentence. It will go into effect 30 days after its scheduled publication on Friday, before some of the executions are set to take place.

All states that use the death penalty allow execution by lethal injection, according to the rule. Some also authorize other means. For example, Alabama allows the prisoner to elect a death by electrocution or nitrogen hypoxia (a lethal dose of gas) instead of lethal injection. A law signed by the governor of Utah in 2015 states that a firing squad shall be used to execute an inmate if substances for lethal injection are unavailable on the scheduled date.