Federal executions are on hold according to National Public Radio. It is now unlikely that any federal prisoner will face the ultimate punishment, at least not before the end of President Barrack Obama's first term.
This is not a significant shift in the application of the death penalty. The federal government has carried out a total of 37 executions. There have been three federal executions in the last 40 years, the most recent was in 2003.
The Justice Department is reviewing its lethal injection protocols because of a shortage of a key drug. While that study is underway, authorities have backed away from setting execution dates.
The reason for the review is a shortage of sodium thiopental, a one of three drugs that the federal government uses as part of its execution protocol.
According to NPR, the federal prison system told a judge last month they are still working through changes to the execution protocol because of that drug shortage and the changes are not final.
Until those changes are finalized death row inmate will not get a new execution date.
To read more: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/16/139576638/the-quiet-revolution-in-the-death-penalty-debate