As part of its efforts to reverse the policies of former President Donald Trump, the Biden administration has halted all federal executions.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Thursday that he has ordered a review of the Justice Department’s policies and procedures.
“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,” he said in a statement. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”
Garland claimed that a review of federal rules was necessary because the Trump administration “carried out the first federal executions in nearly two decades between July 2020 and January 2021.”
The Trump administration carried out 13 executions during that period, according to The Associated Press.
President Joe Biden has signaled his opposition to the death penalty, promising on his campaign website that he would “work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level, and incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example.”
Garland issued a memo on Thursday directing a review of procedures.
The memo said executions have a “disparate impact on people of color.”
The attorney general also said he wanted to determine whether the lethal injection drug pentobarbital creates undue pain and suffering for the criminals being executed.
Garland also announced he would review a November 2020 DOJ memo that would have allowed other methods for federal executions other than lethal injection, depending upon the state in which an execution was to take place.
The final part of his review is to determine whether changes in departmental rules to” expedite execution of capital sentences” should be rescinded.
Garland’s memo did not provide a timetable for the review but said, “No federal executions will be scheduled while the reviews are pending.”
William Barr, who served as attorney general in the Trump administration, noted that capital punishment is part of the law.
“I think the way to stop the death penalty is to repeal the death penalty,” Barr said, according to a Los Angeles Times report in December. “But if you ask juries to impose and juries impose it, then it should be carried out.”
In a 2019 Justice Department news release, Barr explained the rationale for executing those sentenced to death.
“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” he said in announcing the first five criminals who were to be executed.
“Under Administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding.
“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.