Justice Department Orders Pause to Federal Executions

The Justice Department announced on Thursday it is pausing federal executions while a review of its policies and procedures is pending. “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,” Attorney General Garland said in a memo to the Justice Department (pdf). “That obligation has special force in capital cases.” He added, “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.” According to the Death Penalty Information Center, about 50 people are on federal death row, most of whom are imprisoned in …

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