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Biden’s silence on capital punishment annoys fellow death penalty opponents


Joe Biden, Merrick Garland Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

President Biden has campaigned as an opponent of the death penalty and he still opposes the death penalty, according to the White House. But you would be forgiven for not knowing that based on the actions – and lack of action – of his administration, The Associated Press reports Friday. “Biden has not said whether he would support a bill introduced by other Democrats to remove the death penalty from US laws. Nor has he repealed Trump-era protocols allowing the resumption of federal executions and allowing prisons to use firing squads if necessary. “

And on Monday, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to restore the death penalty for Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arguing that a lower court was wrong to dismiss the sentence over selection concerns. jury and asking the high court to “put this case on the right track to a just conclusion.”

“Biden’s lack of action is unreasonable,” said Ashley Kincaid Eve, lawyer and activist against the death penalty. PA. “This is the easiest campaign promise to keep, and his refusal to keep it … is political cowardice.”

Biden’s “hands-off approach” “adds to the turmoil around the death penalty nationwide as pressure increases in some conservative states to find ways to continue executions amid lethal injection drug shortages.” , PA reports. And some opponents of the death penalty fear its silence could give the appearance of tacit approval for state execution methods like gas chambers and firing squads.

Biden believes Justice Department “has independence over such decisions” like Tsarnaev’s motion, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said PA, and he also believes “that the department should go back to its previous practice and not carry out executions.”

There are things Biden can do unilaterally, like commute all federal death sentences to life in prison, and he could tell the Department of Justice to stop scheduling executions while he’s president. But the initial sense of death row optimism about Biden’s presidency has dissipated, said Rejon Taylor, an inmate at Terre Haute, Indiana, federal penitentiary. PA. “I will not say that skepticism has set in, but I will say that most no longer believe that immediate action will happen,” he said, adding that most inmates also do not believe that ‘they will be executed while Biden is president.

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