18:07 GMT25 July 2021
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    US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday ordered a temporary halt to the scheduling of federal executions amid growing concerns regarding the treatment of inmates, with a review underway into department policies and procedures.

    The federal stay on new executions is an “important step forward,” and the president supports AG Garland on the issue, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Friday.

    “The president felt it so important that it was a part of his discussion with the attorney general when he interviewed him and talked to him about the job. Now, the attorney general has announced that there will be a halt in executions while there is an important review. And the president feels that’s an important step forward,” Psaki said, speaking to reporters in Washington.

    Asked to comment on pressure on the government to commute federal death sentences, Psaki said she couldn’t “speak to that” while a review is underway.

    While running for president in 2020, Biden pledged to end the death penalty, saying he would support legislation on the federal level to “incentivize states to follow the federal government’s example.”

    Amid Garland’s move to temporarily halt executions, anti-death penalty activists have made calls to make the halt permanent, and have asked Biden to move beyond "half-measures" and fulfill his campaign promise.

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