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Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday ordered a moratorium on federal executions while the Department of Justice reviews its death penalty policies and procedures.

Driving the news: Garland said in a memo that "serious concerns" have been raised about the use of the death penalty, "including arbitrariness in its application, disparate impact on people of color, and the troubling number of exonerations in capital and other serious cases."

  • No federal executions will be scheduled while the review takes place.

The big picture: Garland also raised concerns about the lethal injection protocol adopted during the Trump administration.

  • During the previous administration the Justice Department changed its capital case policies and procedures, leading to the "first federal executions in nearly two decades between July 2020 and January 2021," notes a DOJ press release.
  • The Trump administration carried out 13 executions in six months, per AP.
  • Garland had previously indicated that he wished to review the federal government's death penalty policies, per Reuters.

The bottom line: “The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely,” Garland wrote.

Go deeper

Missouri governor declines clemency request despite plea from pope, lawmakers

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson addresses media at the Missouri State Capitol Building. Photo: Michael B. Thomas via Getty Images

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has declined to grant clemency to a death row inmate set to face execution on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Pope Francis had joined lawmakers and activists in calling on the Republican governor to reject the death penalty for Ernest Johnson, who is convicted of killing three people during a 1994 robbery at a convenience store. His lawyer argues that executing him would violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bans executions of intellectually disabled people, per AP.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressman criminally charged with lying to feds

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) has been indicted on charges he falsified records and lied to federal investigators probing an illegal foreign donation scheme, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Driving the news: DOJ says a Fortenberry associate, who later cooperated with investigators, informed him he'd likely received illegal donations from an intermediary for a foreign national, but that Fortenberry denied any knowledge of such a scheme when contacted by the FBI.

"Assassin's Creed," but for schools

"Viking Age: Discovery Tour." Image via Ubisoft

For the third time since 2018, Ubisoft is releasing a nonviolent version of its latest “Assassin’s Creed” game as part of a unique effort to turn one of the medium’s most popular series into an educational tool.

Driving the news:Viking Age: Discovery Tour” transforms last year’s “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” from a bloody 150-hour game about Viking conquest in 9th century England into a peaceful four-hour game about merchants and monks.

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