Virginia Democratic Leaders Lead Anti-Death Penalty Effort – Law Expects to End Racial Disparity

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By Nancy Aviña & Will McCurry

RICHMOND, VA — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw issued a joint statement this week that they will prohibit capital punishment in the Commonwealth. And end what appears to be racial disparity.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Virginia has used the death penalty more than any other state, adding up to almost 1,400 people since it first became a colony. Currently, two Black men remain on Virginia’s death row, Anthony Juniper and Thomas Porter.

And from 1900 to 1969, Virginia did not execute a single White person for any offense that did not result in death, while 73 Black men were executed for rape, attempted rape or robbery.

Currently, both the House Bill 2263, authored by Delegate Mike Mullin and Senate Bill 1165,  authored by Senator Scott Surovell, are interchangeable bills and are headed to the desk of Governor Northam as legislation that would abolish the death penalty in Virginia.

When Gov. Northam signs this piece of legislation into a law, Virginia would be the 23rd state of the United States to make executions illegal forms of punishment. Additionally, Virginia would then become the first Southern state to completely abolish capital punishment.

“Over Virginia’s long history, this Commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And, like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executing an innocent person. It’s time we stop this machinery of death,” the three said in their joint statement.

This piece of legislation has been just one out of many pieces that have been moved toward abolishing execution, due to policy changes with more Democratic lawmakers in office.

There has not been a set date for when the governor will sign the piece of legislation.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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