Virginia lawmakers approved legislation Monday to ban the death penalty and are now sending the legislation to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va).
The Senate voted 22-16 on Monday, with Republican state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel joining Democrats, to approve the measure. The House approved the state Senate’s own version of the bill, 57-43, shortly after senators voted.
Northam’s signature will make Virginia the 23rd state to ban executions and the first in the American South.
“It is vital that our criminal justice system operates fairly and punishes people equitably,” Gov. Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said in a joint statement. “We all know the death penalty doesn’t do that. It is inequitable, ineffective, and inhumane.”
“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 statement continued.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court let states resume the death penalty in 1976, Virginia has conducted the second most executions, following Texas. 2017 was the last execution in Virginia.
“Thanks to the vote of lawmakers in both chambers, Virginia will join 22 other states that have ended use of the death penalty. This is an important step forward in ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair and equitable to all,” the statement concludes.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 25 states currently have the death penalty, 22 states do not and three have governor-imposed moratoriums.
The legislation would commute the death sentences of the two offenders currently on death row in Virginia to life in prison without parole.
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
You may like
Historic House Vote Expels Rep. George Santos Amidst Scandal
In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.
Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.
Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.
Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.
Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.
Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.
You may like
Nation6 days ago
Group backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran hacked into PA Water Facility
education5 days ago
Calls for Hofstra University President’s Resignation Over Statements on Israel-Hamas Conflict
Media4 days ago
Robert De Niro anti-Trump speech mysteriously replaced in teleprompter at Awards Show
Nation5 days ago
Elizabeth Warren Acknowledges Unintended Consequences of Obamacare