The US government won‘t let people execute anymore for the time being. The Biden government wants to investigate whether the fundamental rights of the death convicts are not violated and whether fair and human execution of the punishment is possible.
The Democratic President’s announcement follows a boom of executions under his predecessor Trump, who resumed executions after a period of 17 years. He had thirteen people executed in the last half of his presidency, more than any other president in the past century.
It is not clear how long the executions will be shut down. One of the issues to be investigated is a new method of execution, using only one means instead of three. The US forced to move to this procedure after several pharmaceuticals refused to make funds available for execution.
There are reports that this method of execution can lead to pain in the death convicted person: it damages the alveoli, which may feel like drowning.
Hope for More
Opponents of the death penalty applaud Bidens decision, but hope he will do even more. For example, a lawyer who assists sentenced to death convicts says that the president will turn all federal death sentences into prison sentences, “to avoid an unscrupulous massacre like last year.”
In the past, Biden has said to be against the death penalty. He also said that the strict laws disproportionately affect many black Americans: out of 46 people on the federal death row, there are 20 white, 18 black, 7 latino and 1 Asian.
27 U.S. states still have the death penalty. The moratorium set by Biden has no influence on that.
Last year, seven executions were carried out in five states, the lowest in twenty years. This year only the state of Texas has executed two prisoners so far.
The number of death sentences executed has seen a declining trend for years after a peak in 1999 of 98 executions. Population support for the death penalty is more or less equally divided. Earlier this year, Virginia, once a state where death sentences were popular, abolished punishment.