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Critics Say Biden Has Done Little To Stop Capital Punishment

In Boston, the Justice Department is pressing judges to uphold Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence. In New York, it is asking jurors to impose the death penalty on a man who killed eight people in an attack on a bicycle path. President Biden campaigned on a pledge to work toward abolishing federal capital punishment but has taken no major steps to that end. The Justice Department continues to press for the death penalty in certain cases, even though it has imposed a moratorium that means no federal executions are likely to happen soon, the Associated Press reports. Federal prosecutors said they won’t seek death for Patrick Crusius, a 24-year-old accused of fatally shooting nearly two dozen people in a racist attack at a West Texas Walmart in 2019. Advocates for abolishing capital punishment say mixed signals from the administration and silence from Biden — the first president to oppose the death penalty openly -- drives home that the Democrat has not made good on his campaign promises that raised their hopes.

Others say his inaction makes it likely a future president will resume federal executions, as President Trump did in 2020 after a 17-year hiatus. With 13 executions at a prison death chamber in Terre Haute, In., during his last six months in office, Trump oversaw more federal executions than any president in more than 120 years. “The Biden administration appears to have no understanding that inaction, if it continues, will result in executions,” said Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center “The Biden administration executions will be carried out by a future administration. But they will be Biden executions.” A White House email on Wednesday said the president “has long talked about his concerns about how the death penalty is applied and whether it is consistent with the values fundamental to our sense of justice and fairness,” and he supports the attorney general’s decision to impose the moratorium.


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