25 March 2021 - Virginia Becomes First Southern State To Abolish The Death Penalty
Virginia Outlaws Death Penalty After Executing 113 Since 1976, Second Only to Texas
Nathalie Colarossi (Newsweek, 24/03/2021)
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam outlawed the death penalty on Wednesday, in a state that has executed nearly 1,400 people since colonial times, more than any other U.S. jurisdiction, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Northam's announcement made Virginia the 23rd state in the country to ban capital punishment and marked a dramatic shift in its history. In modern times, Virginia is No. 2 after Texas in its number of executions, with 113 since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the Associated Press said, citing the Death Penalty Information Center.
"There is no place today for the death penalty in this commonwealth, in the South or in this nation," Northam said Wednesday, shortly before signing the legislation.
Virginia governor signs historic bill abolishing death penalty into law
Veronica Stracqualursi (CNN, 24/03/2021)
After centuries of carrying out executions, Virginia on Wednesday became the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty after Gov. Ralph Northam signed historic legislation into law that ends capital punishment in the commonwealth.
"We can't give out the ultimate punishment without being 100% sure that we're right. And we can't sentence people to that ultimate punishment knowing that the system doesn't work the same for everyone," Northam, a Democrat, said ahead of signing the legislation at the Greensville Correctional Center, which houses Virginia's death chamber.
Why It's So Significant Virginia Just Abolished the Death Penalty
Madeleine Carlisle (Time Magazine, 24/03/2021)
Virginia’s use of the death penalty dates back over 400 years—to 1608, when Jamestown settlers carried out the first recorded execution in the then-European colonies. In the centuries since, amid periods of slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow segregation, Virginia has executed hundreds of people; since 1976, the state has executed 113 people, a higher percentage of death row inmates than any other U.S. state, and the highest number of state executions second only to Texas.
But on March 24, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law legislation abolishing the death penalty—making Virginia the first Southern state to ban capital punishment. The signing took place at the Greensville Correctional Center, which had housed Virginia’s death row. Northam took a tour of the center’s execution chamber shortly before the signing. “It is a powerful thing to stand in the room where people have been put to death,” he said. “And it reinforced [for] me that signing this new law is the right thing to do.”
One of the death penalty’s former strongholds will abolish it
Ian Millhiser (Vox, 23/02/2021)
The Commonwealth of Virginia executed more people in the last 45 years than any state other than Texas. After the Supreme Court established the modern legal framework governing death sentences in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976, it is one of a handful of states that executed more than a dozen people in a single year.
But Virginia also hasn’t executed anyone since 2017, and it will soon abolish the death penalty altogether. The state legislature gave its final approval to legislation ending capital punishment in Virginia on Monday. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, intends to sign the bill.