After Wave of 13 Federal Executions, a Halt

Department of Justice reviewing policies
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2021 12:45 AM CDT
Federal Executions, Resumed Under Trump, Halted Again
This March 22, 1995, file photo shows the interior of the execution chamber in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.   (AP Photo/Chuck Robinson, File)

After the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17-year hiatus, Donald Trump oversaw 13 executions—more than any US president since the 1800s, Reuters reports. (Those executions also included the first woman put to death by the federal government in almost seven decades.) On Thursday, US Attorney General Merrick Garland halted them once again. Garland said the temporary moratorium would allow the Justice Department to review capital punishment policies and procedures to ensure all prisoners are being treated fairly and their rights are not being trampled on. He cited the disproportionate impact the death penalty has on people of color, as well as controversy over lethal injection drugs, the Guardian reports.

Under Trump, William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to start using the single drug pentobarbital due to a shortage of one of the drugs used in the prior three-drug protocol, and critics have said it can cause a drowning sensation when it is used. The director of the Federal Capital Habeas Project said the move is "not enough," though it's a start: “We know the federal death penalty system is marred by racial bias, arbitrariness, over-reaching, and grievous mistakes by defense lawyers and prosecutors that make it broken beyond repair.” President Biden said during his campaign he would support legislation ending the death penalty. But his administration last month requested that the Boston marathon bomber's death sentence be reinstated, frustrating death penalty opponents, the Hill reports. (Read more execution stories.)

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