Attorney general pauses federal executions

Office of the U.S. Attorney General in Washington, D.C.
Office of the U.S. Attorney General in Washington, D.C.
Bill Perry via Shutterstock

The Trump administration in 2019 resumed federal executions after a 16-year hiatus, but they have once again come to a halt.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland imposed another moratorium pending a review of former Attorney General William Barr’s policies and procedures.

Why review it now? An anti–death penalty group sued the Justice Department, claiming the use of pentobarbital, a one-dose lethal injection, causes intense pain for inmates.

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Federal courts can still sentence people to death, but Garland gave no timeline for restarting executions.

Although President Joe Biden supported the death penalty in the 1990s, he reversed his position and said he has significant concerns about execution practices. During his campaign, Biden promised to abolish capital punishment, but his administration recently asked the Supreme Court to restore the penalty for convicted Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

There are 46 people on federal death row.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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