Virginia executions down over the last five years - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Virginia executions down over the last five years

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(WSLS) - The death penalty is nothing new for Virginians.

Since 1976, only Texas and Oklahoma have executed more people than the Commonwealth. However, those numbers are dropping fast.

Virginia executed three death row inmates in 2010, but only two have been executed in the nearly four years since.

QUESTIONS SURROUND EXECUTIONS IN VIRGINIA

"We just aren't putting people on death row now the way that we were a decade ago in Virginia," said Professor Matthew Engle, the interim director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse which serves as a resource for defense attorneys in death penalty cases. The program is run through Washington and Lee Law School. 

"I think it will be something that for the foreseeable future will always be on the radar screen and it should be," said Del. Greg Habeeb (R-Salem). "When citizens decide to enact the ultimate punishment by taking someone's life it should be debated."

Virginia currently has eight inmates on death row, although no executions are scheduled.

Another factor in the debate is the cost.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center it costs an average of $50,000-$60,000 per year to house an inmate on death row.

It only costs around $25,000 to hold a regular inmate.

Much of that cost is connected to keeping death row inmates in isolation, which is required by law.

It also doesn't take into account the expensive appeals process, which is automatic in Virginia and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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