New York’s Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D), one of two Black Catholics in Congress, is continuing his crusade against the death penalty.

Having authored a bill on the first day of Congress to abolish capital punishment, Espaillat today joined Ayanna Pressley (D-MN) and 43 other lawmakers to press Biden’s attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to ensure the outdated penalty itself perishes.

Espaillat and Pressley led the group and both have anti-death penalty bills active in the House.

Garland, one-time nominee to the Supreme Court under Obama, is to follow Trump’s AG Bill Barr, a Catholic who infamously restarted use of the federal death penalty after over 17 years of dormancy.

The Trump administration went on to kill a baker’s dozen of God’s children—including 6 Black men between September 24th and January 16th.

They also killed a mentally disabled woman on January 13th.

Garland himself masterminded a notable death penalty sentence in 1997, for Timothy McVeigh (of Oklahoma City bombing infamy), and as recently as 2016 was labeled a “moderate” and a likely death penalty supporter.

And while Biden has changed his own neoliberal tune from earlier years and come out against capital punishment, his campaign's verbiage suggested that a nationwide abolition order is not on the table.

There are currently no federal executions scheduled, but Texas and Alabama plan to kill one Black man apiece next month.


Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder of Black Catholic Messenger, a priesthood applicant with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).