JARRATT, Va. (AP) — The governor signed legislation Wednesday making Virginia the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty, a dramatic shift for the commonwealth, which had the second-highest number of executions in the U.S.
BREAKING: Gov. Ralph Northam just signed legislation to end the death penalty in Virginia.
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) March 24, 2021
The bills were the culmination of a yearslong battle by Democrats who argued the death penalty has been applied disproportionately to people of color, the mentally ill and the poor. Republicans argued that the death penalty should remain a sentencing option for especially heinous crimes and to bring justice to victims and their families.
Virginia’s new Democratic majority, in full control of the General Assembly for a second year, won the debate last month when both the Senate and House of Delegates passed the measures banning capital punishment.