Virginia became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. It was the “moral thing to do” said Governor Ralph Northam. The democratic lawmaker signed the bill into law making it the twenty-third state in the U.S. to abolish the practice.
While the state hasn’t executed an inmate since 2017, Virginia has gone through with 113 executions since 1976 making them the second highest next to Texas. Northam, who referred to the death penalty as the “machinery of death,” signed the bill at the Greensville Correctional Center, where many previous executions were carried out.
“It is the moral thing to do to end the death penalty,” Northam said.
“With Governor Northam’s signature today, Virginia has now joined 22 other states, including Washington, D.C., that have abandoned the death penalty,” Kristina Roth, senior advocate for criminal justice programs at Amnesty International USA Virginia, once a stronghold of the confederacy, now becomes the first Southern state to end the ultimate denial of human rights that is the death penalty.