The Biden Administration put a hold on federal executions pending a review of the Justice Department’s policies and procedures.
The move by Attorney General Merrick Garland reverses the Trump Administration’s decision to resume federal executions after a 17-year hiatus.
Concerns about arbitrariness, disparate impact and exonerations
In a memorandum issued on July 1, Garland announced that his decision was based on ideas of fairness and humane treatment.
“Serious concerns have been raised about the continued use of the death penalty across the country, including arbitrariness in its application, disparate impact on people of color, and the troubling number of exonerations in capital and other serious cases. Those weighty concerns deserve careful study and evaluation by lawmakers,” wrote Garland.
Catholic bishops opposed resumption of executions
In 2019 then-Attorney General William Barr announced the resumption of federal executions to much outcry from Catholic leaders.
In a statement in response to the decision, Fr. Frank J. Dewane, bishop of Venice, Fla., and chair of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said:
“I am deeply concerned by the announcement by the United States Justice Department that it will once again turn, after many years, to the death penalty as a form of punishment, and urge instead that these Federal officials be moved by God’s love, which is stronger than death, and abandon the announced plans for executions.
Since the resumption of federal executions, 13 people were executed by the federal government.
During the presidential campaign, President Biden said he wanted to abolish federal executions and offering incentives for states to do the same, reported the New York Times.