Virginia Governor Northam and Democratic Leaders Issue Joint Statement on Final Passage of Legislation to Abolish Death Penalty

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D), House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw jointly issued the following statement today after both houses of the General Assembly passed legislation to ban capital punishment in the Commonwealth. House Bill 2263, sponsored by Delegate Mike Mullin, and Senate Bill 1165, sponsored by Senator Scott Surovell, which are identical bills, head to Governor Northam’s desk. The bill abolishes the death penalty, including for those persons currently under a death sentence.

The bill also provides that no person may be sentenced to death or put to death on or after its effective date for any violation of law.

According to the press release:

“It is vital that our criminal justice system operates fairly and punishes people equitably, We all know the death penalty doesn’t do that. It is inequitable, ineffective, and inhumane.

“Over Virginia’s long history, this Commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And, like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executing an innocent person. It’s time we stop this machinery of death.

Virginia will join 22 other states that have ended use of the death penalty.

Del. Michael Mullin (D), the House bill’s sponsor, said in an interview with Time magazine that support for the bill’s passage was due in large part to Northam addressing the issue during his January State of the Commonwealth address.

“There have been people who have put abolition forward for the better part of four decades. But we’ve never had a governor who went out forcefully and with a full-throated approach to abolish the death penalty.”

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—By CNJ Staff

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