Intended for healthcare professionals


New rule allows US government to execute prisoners by means other than lethal injection

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 27 November 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4674
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

A new rule created by the Trump administration will allow the US federal government to execute its death row prisoners by any method approved in states that have the death penalty. The change could potentially allow the US government to execute people by electric chair, firing squad, or the method increasingly embraced by death penalty advocates, nitrogen asphyxiation.

The rule, to be published in the federal register on 27 November after a compressed public comment period,1 alters regulations set out in 1993, when lethal injection was widespread and easily carried out.

Those rules stipulated that federal prisoners facing the death penalty would be executed according to the existing protocol of the state …

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