‘Business As Usual’: Biden Admin Still Fighting For Executions After Campaign Promises To End Death Penalty

U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau hold a news conference, in Ottawa

‘Business As Usual’: Biden Admin Still Fighting For Executions After Campaign Promises To End Death Penalty

Laurel Duggan on March 27, 2023

President Joe Biden promised to end the death penalty during his presidential campaign, but two years into his presidency his Department of Justice (DOJ) is still fighting death row inmates’ appeals to have their sentences reversed, according to The Associated Press.

Biden pledged to end federal capital punishments throughout his campaign, prompting a public expectation that major actions would be taken early in his presidency, according to The Associated Press. Attorney General Merrick Garland temporarily paused executions in July 2021, but DOJ attorneys are still fighting to defend death sentences issued to inmates, and 40 attorneys for death row inmates said the agency hasn’t meaningfully changed its handling of the issue since the Trump administration.

“Every legal means they have available they’re using to fight us,” Kelley Henry, an attorney representing death row inmate Rejon Taylor, told the outlet. “It’s business as usual.”

“They’re fighting back as much as they ever have,” Ruth Friedman, head of the defender unit that oversees federal death row cases, told the AP. “If you say my client has an intellectual disability, the government … says, ‘No, he does not.’ If you say ‘I’d like [new evidence],’ they say, ‘You aren’t entitled to it.’”

Garland has reversed previous administrations’ decisions to pursue the death penalty in 27 cases, and he declined to pursue a death sentence for Patrick Crusius, who pleaded guilty to the 2019 racially charged killings of nearly two dozen people, according to the AP.

The White House and the DOJ did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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