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The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Data: Pew Research CenterDeath Penalty Information Center; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Where it stands: Over half of U.S. states that authorize the death penalty haven't used it in at least 5 to 10 years, according to Pew data.

  • 7 states put 22 people to death in 2019, primarily in Texas, according to year-end data from the nonprofit advocacy group Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
  • 2019 was America's fifth consecutive year with fewer than 30 executions, per BJS and DPIC data.
  • 3 people have been executed in 2020: One in Texas, one in Tennessee and the latest in Alabama, per DPIC.

Driving the news: Five executions scheduled by the Justice Department are postponed, after the Supreme Court refused to overturn a federal judge's decision that renewing federal capital punishment could violate the Federal Death Penalty Act, per the Wall Street Journal.

  • The January executions of Alfred Bourgeois and Dustin Lee Honken — originally set for Jan. 13 and 15 — have been paused as the injunction against the DOJ's execution renewal works through lower courts.
  • The execution of Lezmond Mitchell was blocked separately by the San Francisco federal appeals court over an ongoing review of possible anti-Native American bias in his case, AP reports.

Of note: Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the DOJ's newly scheduled executions to be carried out with only one drug, pentobarbital. The U.S. government has historically used a three-drug cocktail for lethal injections, per the DPIC — which carry a fraught history.

  • The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the sedative midazolam, when used in a three-drug combo for executions, does not violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
  • The court's decision followed a botched Oklahoma execution in 2014 that took 40 excruciating minutes and induced a heart attack in the condemned. The Supreme Court had not debated the painlessness of those drugs since 2008, per the Washington Post.
  • The DOJ declared in May that the Food and Drug Administration has no authority to regulate drugs used to carry out the death penalty.

Go deeper: Where the death penalty survives around the world

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.

11 mins ago - Technology

Why domestic terrorists are so hard to police online

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Domestic terrorism has proven to be more difficult for Big Tech companies to police online than foreign terrorism.

The big picture: That's largely because the politics are harder. There's more unity around the need to go after foreign extremists than domestic ones — and less danger of overreaching and provoking a backlash.