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Tags: ag merrick garland | trump | federal executions

AG Garland Suspends Federal Executions Pending Review of DOJ Policies

Attorney General Merrick Garland listens at a news conference
Attorney General Merrick Garland listens at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. on June 25. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 02 July 2021 07:58 AM EDT

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday announced a freeze on federal executions pending a review of the Justice Department's policies and procedures, The Hill reported.

The Trump administration had resumed federal executions last year after a nearly two-decade pause.

In a memo to DOJ officials, Garland said the department would review its policies and procedures to make sure they "are consistent with the principles articulated in this memorandum," according to The Hill.

"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. That obligation has special force in capital cases."

Garland said there would be an internal review of the "the risk of pain and suffering associated with” the drug pentobarbital -- used for lethal injections – and changes made in November "that expanded the permissible methods of execution beyond lethal injection, and authorized the use of state facilities and personnel in federal executions," according to The Hill.

The New York Times reported Garland named Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to supervise a review of the department's policies. He also requested several of the DOJ’s divisions -- including the Bureau of Prisons, the criminal division, and the civil rights division -- participate, along with other federal agencies and outside advocacy groups.

Last year, the Trump administration oversaw the first federal executions in the U.S. in 17 years.

Thirteen executions – including that of 52-year-old Lisa Montgomery, the first woman put to death by the federal government in nearly 70 years – were carried out under former President Donald Trump.

The executions under the Trump administration included four Black men, prompting criticism from anti-death penalty advocates and defense lawyers, who made several failed attempts to stop the executions, The Hill reported.

During his campaign, President Joe Biden vowed to end Trump’s resumption of federal death penalties. Justice reform advocates and fellow Democrats had been critical of Biden’s inaction regarding the matter until now.

"Since 1973, over 160 individuals in this country have been sentenced to death and were later exonerated," Biden tweeted after Trump announced in July 2019 that federal executions would be resumed.  

"Because we can’t ensure that we get these cases right every time, we must eliminate the death penalty."

Capital punishment opponents expressed displeasure with the Biden administration last month when it requested the Supreme Court reinstate the death penalty against Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, The Hill reported.

A federal appeals court last year vacated Tsarnaev’s death penalty sentence -- received in 2015 -- by ruling the trial court had failed to effectively screen jurors for possible bias. The ruling also said evidence showing Tsarnaev had been influenced by his older brother had been excluded.

Montgomery was convicted in 2007 of murdering a pregnant woman and removing the fetus from her body using a knife.

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Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday announced a freeze on federal executions pending a review of the Justice Department's policies and procedures, The Hill reported. The Trump administration had resumed federal executions last year after a nearly two-decade pause.In...
ag merrick garland, trump, federal executions
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2021-58-02
Friday, 02 July 2021 07:58 AM
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