Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered a temporary stop Thursday to scheduling further federal executions.
In a memo to senior officials, he said serious concerns have arisen about the arbitrariness of capital punishment, its disparate impact on people of color, and “the troubling number of exonerations” in death penalty cases.
“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 humanly,” he said.
Court fights over the traditional three-drug memo for carrying out lethal injections, and a shortage of one of those drugs, brought federal executions to a halt for nearly two decades.
But in 2019, then-Attorney General William Barr directed federal prison officials to begin carrying lethal injections using a single drug — a powerful sedative.