Joe Biden has called for an end to executions.  So why is his Department of Justice still asking for the death penalty?

Joe Biden has called for an end to executions. So why is his Department of Justice still asking for the death penalty?

Joe Biden has called for an end to executions.  So why is his Department of Justice still asking for the death penalty?

On Monday, Sayfullo Saipov’s terrorism trial begins. Prosecutors say the man plowed into a rental truck on Manhattan’s crowded West Side bike path, killing eight people and injuring scores more in an Islamic State-inspired attack.

But it’s not just the New Jersey resident who will be judged. The Biden administration’s confused and seemingly hypocritical stance on the death penalty will come under scrutiny. Joe Biden has said he is against executions, but his Justice Department is still seeking the death penalty for the Uzbek immigrant.

Joe Biden, who was played an instrumental role in the development of many “tough on crime” policies as a senator in the 1990s, made the startling announcement that he was against the death penalty during the 2020 election campaign, explaining that he was giving up his past support because a mountain of evidence on the wrongful convictions was now showing”we can’t make sure we handle death penalty cases correctly every time.”

Additionally, a year later, the Department of Justice announced in July 2021 that it was suspend federal executions as the government reviewed its policy on the death penalty, following a historical execution frenzy under Donald Trump.

“Serious concerns have been raised about the continued use of the death penalty across the country, including arbitrariness in its application, the disparate impact on people of color, and the troubling number of capital and ‘other serious cases,’ Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote. in a note at the time explaining the moratorium.

“He assured me that under his watch, there would be no federal executions,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley said. Told The Independent Last year.

The president’s personal discomfort with the executions hasn’t stopped the Justice Department from pursuing the death penalty in a number of terrorism and domestic extremism cases, including the Manhattan truck attack, as well that the prosecution of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and white supremacist church shooter Dylann Toit, even though, as The Independent reported, some families of victims in both cases expressed their wishes that the government refrain from using the death penalty.

“It’s very difficult to understand how the Biden administration views and proceeds with the federal death penalty,” said Austin Sarat, a law and political science professor at Amherst College. say it New York Times.

“Biden’s stance against the death penalty on the campaign trail was, I think, an important signal to many about what this administration could do,” he continued. “The moratorium on federal executions? It’s welcome. But there’s no sign of anything beyond that.

In July 2021, the same month Mr. Garland announced the moratorium on executions, federal prosecutors praised an appeals court for upholding Tsarnaev’s death sentence.

(Federal Bureau of Investigation)

“The jury carefully considered each of the respondent’s crimes and determined that capital punishment was warranted for the horrors he personally inflicted,” Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said. wrote in a nutshell at the time.

The White House told Reuters at the time that Joe Biden still opposes the death penalty, but the DoJ “has independence regarding such decisions.”

“President Biden has made it clear that he is deeply concerned about the compatibility of capital punishment with the core values ​​of our sense of justice and fairness,” a spokesperson told the news service.

In March 2022, the Supreme Court further confirmed the punishment of the Boston bomber.

Roof’s pursuit followed roughly the same trajectory. In 2021, a month after the moratorium was announced, a federal prosecutor famous an appeals court upheld the white supremacist’s death sentence, calling it a sign that “justice will be served for the victims, survivors and their families”.

In October 2022, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal difficult the execution of Roof.

Critics argue that Mr. Biden is saying one thing and doing another. The president has said he hopes to secure legislation banning the death penalty, although he has spent virtually no public political capital on such a priority.

Additionally, Jordan Rubin, a former MSNBC prosecutor and legal analyst, notes that the president could significantly alter death row in the United States even without passing a new bill in Congress by using his executive powers to mass commute the federal death sentences to life in prison.

“Biden could clear federal death row with the flick of a pen if he wanted to,” Rubin said. wrote in December. “But despite his stated concerns about capital punishment, he didn’t.”

The independent and the non-profit association Responsible Business for Justice Initiative (RBIJ) launched a joint campaign calling for an end to the death penalty in the United States. The RBIJ has attracted over 150 well-known signatories to its Statement of Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty – with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high profile leaders like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson in this initiative and pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage. .

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