Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Thursday imposed a moratorium on federal executions pending a evaluation of the Justice Department’s insurance policies and procedures, reversing the Trump administration’s choice to renew executions of federal dying row inmates final yr after a virtually two-decade hiatus.
“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,” Mr. Garland mentioned in a memo to Justice Department leaders. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”
Mr. Garland mentioned in his memo that the deputy legal professional basic, Lisa O. Monaco, would supervise a evaluation of Justice Department insurance policies associated to federal executions that had been carried out by former Attorney General William P. Barr. He requested that a number of of the division’s divisions, together with the Bureau of Prisons, the felony division and the civil rights division, take part, together with different federal companies and outdoors advocacy teams.
After 17 years with out executions, the Justice Department beneath Mr. Barr started to execute federal dying row inmates final summer time. He argued that the Justice Department beneath each events had sought the dying penalty and that the federal government owed “the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
The Trump administration in the end executed 13 individuals, greater than thrice the variety of individuals put to dying by the federal authorities within the earlier six many years.
Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, mentioned President Biden accredited of Mr. Garland’s choice.
“As the president has made clear, he has significant concerns about the death penalty and how it is implemented, and he believes the Department of Justice should return to its prior practice of not carrying out executions,” Mr. Bates mentioned.
As a candidate, Mr. Biden mentioned that he would work to abolish federal executions and incentivize states to comply with swimsuit.
The Supreme Court additionally mentioned in March that it will evaluation an appeals courtroom’s choice to overturn the dying sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was sentenced to dying for his position within the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
Should the Biden administration withdraw its help for the dying penalty in opposition to Mr. Tsarnaev, the Supreme Court case would change into moot.
Mr. Garland has requested the division to evaluation insurance policies carried out within the final two years that paved the best way to restart federal executions.