US attorney general imposes moratorium
US attorney general imposes moratorium on federal executions

The move by Attorney General Merrick Garland is a major reversal in policy from the previous Trump administration.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday ordered a temporary pause on the scheduling of federal executions.

What did Garland say about the order?

Garland ordered the Department of Justice to review the practice and said in a memo to senior officials that he is concerned about its disparate impact on people of color. He also noted the “troubling number of exonerations” in death penalty cases.

“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely,” Garland said in a statement.

“That obligation has special force in capital cases,” he added.

No federal executions will be carried out until the review is completed.

Woman Set to be Executed in US

A major reversal from Trump-era policy

The moratorium on federal executions is a major reversal from Trump-era policy.

Garland’s predecessor under the Trump administration, William Barr, oversaw 13 federal executions from July 2020 to January 2021. This tally was the highest of any presidential administration in the past 120 years.

Barr issued a directive to use the drug pentobarbital to carry out the federal executions.

Critics say the drug puts inmates at an undue risk of suffering, as it can make them feel as if they are drowning due to rapid lung damage.

President Joe Biden has vowed to end the death penalty, and faces pressure from grassroots activists to completely abolish the practice in the US.

Yet, the Justice Department under Biden has pushed for a death sentence for one of the men convicted of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

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