AG Garland imposes moratorium on scheduling federal executions
© WikiMedia (CACorrections)
AG Garland imposes moratorium on scheduling federal executions

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium on scheduling federal executions on Thursday, “pending review of policies and procedures.” Garland cited the inconsistent application of the death penalty, particularly leading to a disparate impact on persons of color, and a large number of exonerations in capital cases as reasons necessitating the review of its application. In the memorandum he states, “[These] weighty concerns deserve careful study and evaluation by lawmakers. In the meantime, the Department must take care to scrupulously maintain our commitment to fairness and humane treatment in the administration of existing federal laws governing capital sentences.”

The memorandum charges the Deputy Attorney General with conducting three reviews, during which federal executions will not be scheduled. The review of the Federal Execution Protocol Addendum, which provides for the use of pentobarbital sodium in executions, will consist of an assessment of “the risk of pain and suffering” associated with its usage. According to Garland, “A risk need not meet the Court’s high threshold for such relief, or violate the Eighth Amendment, to raise important questions about our responsibility to treat individuals humanely and avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.”

A second review will reconsider the expansion of the government’s available methods of administering the death penalty, which allows the government to use any form of execution that is legal and appropriate in the state in which the capital sentence was imposed.

A final review will reconsider recent changes to Title 9, Chapter 10, providing for the expedition of executing capital sentences.