Following a long hiatus, the Justice Department has announced it will reinstate capital punishment.

The Washington Post reports the department plans to resume executing prisoners awaiting death, ending almost two decades in which the federal government had not imposed the ultimate penalty.

In the years since the last execution in 2003 the government has imposed a moratorium on execution of federal prisoners as officials reviewed lethal injection procedures. Eric Holder, who served as attorney general in the Barack Obama administration, was an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the scheduling of executions for five inmates on death row, all of whom were convicted of murdering children.

“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,”  the attorney general said in a statement.

The reinstatement of the death penalty runs counter to the national trend: the number of executions nationwide has plummeted over the last two decades.

[Source: Washington Post]