Merrick Garland pauses federal death penalty though his DOJ sought it for Boston bomber

Attorney General Merrick Garland has called for an at least temporary end to the federal death penalty, although his own Department of Justice (DOJ) recently pushed the punishment for the man convicted in the deadly 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Garland wrote in a memorandum on Thursday that he had “serious concerns” about the death penalty while calling for a series of reviews, vowing that “no federal executions will be scheduled” until the reviews are completed.

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted in 2015 and sentenced to death. Although the death sentence was later overturned, the DOJ filed a brief with the Supreme Court asking for it to be reinstated last month.

“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,” Garland wrote on Thursday. “Those 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,” he added.

Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered a moratorium to the federal death penalty on Thursday, fulfilling one of President Joe Biden’s campaign promises. However, the Department of Justice sought the death penalty in the Boston Bomber case last month.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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