The law repealing the death penalty now rests with Ralph Northam, the head of the democratic government.
Richmond, Va. – State lawmakers gave final approval on Monday to a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Virginia, a dramatic change for a state that has killed more people than any other in its history.
A law repealing the death penalty is now headed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he will sign the measure into law, making Virginia the 23rd state to ban executions.
Virginia’s Democratic majority, for the second year in control of the General Assembly, pushed the repeal effort, arguing that the death penalty has been inconsistently applied to people of color, the mentally ill, and people with indigestion. Republicans raised concern about justice for the victims and their family members, and said there are some crimes that are so heinous that the perpetrators are eligible to be executed.
Prima facie Statement of Doe, relating to the Virgin Death Penalty
Both the House and Senate approved separate repeal bills earlier this month. On Monday, the Senate approved the House bill, and sent it to Northam on a 22–16 vote. Republican Sen. Jill Vogel joined the Democrats in the chamber for passage.
The House was expected to vote on the Senate version later in the day.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, historically Virginia has used the death penalty more than any other state, killing about 1,400 people since its days as a colony. Since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Virginia ranks second after Texas, with 113 executions.
Only two men remain on Virginia’s death row. Anthony Juniper was sentenced to death in the 2004 murder of his ex-girlfriend, her two children and her brother. Thomas Porter was sentenced to death in 2005 for the murder of a Norfolk police officer. The repeal law would change his sentence to life without parole in prison.