Governor Ralph Northam’s bill to get rid of the death penalty that, if it goes through, would make Virginia the first Southern state to end capital punishment. That’s a significant achievement.
Governor Northam’s Equity, Criminal Justice Reform Work
“This is the year to end the death penalty in Virginia, I understand about timing and I suspect this is the year, ” Northam said.
“I’ve felt firmly about this for a long time,” the governor said. “We’ve been doing so much quality work on equity, especially criminal justice reform, and we also have the majority in the House and the Senate.”
This will be the first time one will be done by a governor. In fact, although abolition bills have been introduced in the General Assembly often in current decades. This year’s regular session begins on Wednesday.
Virginia has Been the State Leader in Executions
Since the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976, Virginia has conducted 113 executions. This is a toll second in the country only to Texas with 570. There have been nearly 1,300 executions in Virginia since 1608, which is the most in the country.
Moreover, no one has been put to death in Virginia since 2011. Or have got an execution since 2017.
Death Row Count is Down
Once hovering at around 50, the state’s death row is now down to two men. Both have been put to death in Norfolk. They will have their sentences changed to life in person. This is without the possibility of parole if the bill becomes law.
Northam was preparing to uphold Virginia’s laws including capital punishment, yet he said that while he opposes the death penalty. At this stage in their appeals, he said Tuesday that neither man would be facing execution during his term.
In fact, this bill would affect future governors. Therefore, probably more than it would me, Northam said. In nine years, no one was put to death in the state. Moreover, we need to take a permanent step. In fact, this is what this is about. This will end in Virginia regardless of who is the governor.”