If he’s convicted of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings, suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could face the federal death penalty. Reinstated in 1988, the federal death penalty now covers some 60 crimes including acts of terrorism, murder of federal law enforcement officers, and the use of weapons of mass destruction. In response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, President Bill Clinton signed a law in 1996 making it more difficult for convicted capital defendants to appeal their sentences. The federal government has executed only three people in the past 20 years. Currently, 58 prisoners are on federal death row, where many have been appealing their convictions or sentences—and avoiding execution—for years.
This is very different from how capital punishment was run a century ago when the U.S. Federal government executed nearly a person a year from 1927-1968 before the Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional in 1977.