The US government under Joe Biden has ordered a halt on federal executions that were resumed in 2020 under the Trump administration after a 17-year hiatus.
The Trump administration carried out 13 federal executions during the former president’s final months in office, before the Trump the last execution occured 17 years ago during the Bush Administration.
However President Joe Biden, who appointed Merrick Garland, the US government’s attorney general, has paused the executions while Garland also ordered a review of the rules around the death penalty
Garland also ordered officials to review the drugs administered during lethal injection amid reports that prisoners may have experienced severe pain while dying.
In issuing the moratorium, Attorney General Garland cited the disproportionate number of racial minorities who are sentenced to capital punishment.
“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,” Mr Garland said.
“That obligation has special force in capital cases.”
There are about 50 people currently on federal death row, according to the non-partisan Death Penalty Information Center.
Executions had been ordered to resume in 2020 by Trump’s Attorney General William Barr, who argued that the federal government owed “the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system”.
The majority of US executions are administered by states, where some 2,500 prisoners are on death row. Texas leads the country with 570 executions since 1976.