Virginia lawmakers, officials react to Gov. Ralph Northam signing bill to end death penalty

Virginia became the first state in the South to stop executions

Virginia Senate passes bill to get rid of death penalty

RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Wednesday that abolishes the death penalty in Virginia.

Virginia became the 23rd state, and the first in the South, to stop executions through Bill 1165.

“Over our 400-year history, Virginia has executed more people than any other state,” said Northam. “The death penalty system is fundamentally flawed—it is inequitable, ineffective, and it has no place in this Commonwealth or this country.

We’ve compiled a list of statements and reactions from officials across the Commonwealth:

U.S. Senator for Virginia, Tim Kaine
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring

“For too long Virginia had the shameful distinction as one of the states that most frequently imposed the death penalty. Now we are showing a better, more just way forward as the first state in the south to do away with it. Ending this practice is just one step in our ongoing, crucial work to reform the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system to make it more fair, equal and just for all Virginians.”

House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn and House Democratic Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan

In a joint statement for Virginia House Democrats, the three politicians said this:

“Virginia has taken another historic step today, one unthinkable just a few months ago. The Commonwealth may have a long, painful history with the death penalty, but our action this year is an example that change is not only possible, it is imperative, and other hold-out states around the country should follow.

This has been a long journey, and while the new Virginia Democratic majority rightly deserves credit for ending the death penalty with our vote and the Governor’s signature, this progress is foremost a reflection of where Virginians have stood for years. The fact is juries have stopped sentencing defendants to death. The death penalty no longer reflects Virginia’s values. The Democratic majority listened to our constituents and ended this outdated, inequitable, and inhumane practice. Finally.”

Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn

More reactions will be added as Virginia lawmakers and leaders publicly share their thoughts on the situation.

About the Author:

Nicole Del Rosario joined WSLS 10 in August 2020.