Espaillat And Pressley Unite To Urge Administration To Abolish The Death Penalty

January 26, 2021

Today, Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) sent a letter 

to Department of Justice Attorney General-designate Judge Merrick B. Garland to prioritize President Biden’s commitment of working with Congress to end the federal death penalty and incentivizing states to end capital punishment across the country.

“The death penalty is unjust, immoral, and racist – we must abolish it,” said Congressman Espaillat. “After an unprecedented killing spree in which the previous administration executed 13 Americans, more in the last seven months than in the last seven decades, it is beyond time for the death penalty to become a part of American history, not America’s present. The death penalty unjustly targets Black and brown Americans and is arbitrarily levied most against those who cannot afford adequate counsel. I look forward to working with the Biden administration to put an end to this cruel practice.”

“State-sanctioned murder is not justice, and the death penalty, which kills Black and brown people disproportionately, has absolutely no place in our society,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Ending the federal death penalty— which is as cruel as it is ineffective in deterring crime—is a racial justice issue. It’s time to truly move our country in the direction of justice and healing. In his new role, Attorney General-nominee Garland will have the power to use the full force of the Department of Justice to stop employing the death penalty at the Federal level and prevent any more unjust executions. Following months of organizing, mobilizing and demonstrations calling for change to our criminal legal system, this moment demands that he do exactly that.”

In the letter, the 45 Members stated, “The death penalty is a stain on the United States’ commitment to advancing justice and human rights. After the past year of Americans taking to the streets to protest police brutality and racial injustice, we believe abolishing the death penalty would be an important marker as we work to address systemic racism in America, particularly within our criminal justice system. We ask that upon confirmation you partner with Congress to enact legislation to end the federal death penalty and resentence those currently on federal death row.”

Espaillat and Pressley have pushed to abolish the federal death penalty since the 116th Congress and with their recent joint efforts, the Members of Congress encourage the Biden administration to:

• Work with Congress to enact legislation to abolish the federal death penalty and resentence those currently on federal death row;
• Rescind the July 25, 2019, addendum to the Federal Execution Protocol and withdraw any pending death warrants;
• Withdraw authorization for all pending death penalty trial cases and cease to seek any death sentence;
• Direct the Bureau of Prisons to dismantle the federal death chamber at FCC Terre Haute prison;
• Rescind DOJ Rule 85 FR 75846 “Manner of Federal Executions” that took effect December 24, 2020. The rule would give the Attorney General unfettered ability to deviate from the regulations at will without subjecting any such changes to further review, and grant unlimited power to redelegate authority and reassign duties among various DOJ components in direct contravention of 18 USC 3596(a). The rule would also eliminate the requirement that any execution be preceded by a valid judgment and order from the federal sentencing court, thereby eliminating a federal court’s authority to control its own judgments and violating the separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches.

Click here to read the letter to Attorney General-Designate Garland in its entirety.

Click here to see Rep. Espaillat press release on death penalty abolition legislation.

Click here to see Rep. Pressley press release on death penalty abolition legislation.

Representative Espaillat is the first Dominican American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and his congressional district includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill and the north-west Bronx.

First elected to Congress in 2016, Representative Espaillat is serving his third term in Congress. Representative Espaillat currently serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for funding the federal government’s vital activities.

He is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), where he serves as the Second Vice-Chair and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where he serves as Deputy Whip.

Representative Espaillat also currently serves as a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at

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