Attorney General nominee Judge Merrick Garland says he is "very concerned" about death penalty cases and is hopeful that since President Biden is opposed to the practice, that they will halt again.
"I have had a great pause about the death penalty. I am very concerned about the large number of exonerations that have occurred through DNA evidence and otherwise, not only in death penalty convictions, but also in other convictions. I think it's a terrible thing that occurs when somebody is convicted of a crime that they did not commit ... the most terrible thing happens if someone is executed for a crime that they did not commit," Garland said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, said that in the last six months of the Trump administration there have been more federal executions than in the past 60 years, it "was nothing short of killing spree and it worries me."
Leahy asked Garland if the 2003 moratorium — that restricted when the federal death penalty can be implemented — would be reinstated.
Garland says within the nearly 20 years since the moratorium was put in place, he had several moments of pause regarding the death penalty and expects Biden to follow through with stopping federal executions.
"The data is clear that it has been enormously disparate impact on Black Americans and members of communities of color, and exonerations also that something like half of the exonerations had to do with Black men. So all of this has given me pause. And I expect that the President will be given direction in this area. If so, expected, not at all unlikely that we will return to the previous policy," Garland said.
To date, there are 185 people, who were sentenced to death and later found to be wrongfully convicted, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.