Virginia To Become the Twenty-Third State To Abolish the Death Penalty
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Northam expressed his support of the changes in the past saying he would be willing to sign the bills if they ever made it to his desk.
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In his statement, he refers to capital punishment as a “machinery of death.”
“This is an important step forward in ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair and equitable to all,” Northam said.
Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) introduced HB 2263 to the House on Jan. 13 with a very simple purpose of abolishing the current death penalty.
HB 2263 seeks to remove capital punishment as an option for criminals being faced with charges and will change previous rulings stating, “That any person under a sentence of death imposed for an offense committed prior to July 1, 2021, but who has not been executed by July 1, 2021, shall have his sentence changed to life imprisonment.”
The Virginia House passed the bill 57 – 41 pushing it to the Governor’s office for it to be signed into effect.
SB1165 is also awaiting signatures from the Governor’s office after being passed with a 21 – 19 vote.
Introduced to the Senate by Virginia Sen. Scott Surovell (D), SB1165 seeks to abolish the current penalty and remove the penalty as an option in the future by ensuring, “no person may be sentenced to death or put to death on or after its effective date for any violation of law”.
As an alternative to the death penalty, the maximum punishment in the state will now be life without the possibility of parole.
Northam said Virginia is the first confederate state to abolish executions describing them as “inhumane, inequitable, and ineffective.”
Virginia has executed more people than any other state with a total of 1,390 with the last being carried out in 2017.
There are currently two people on death row in the state who will be affected immediately by the bills once signed.