The death penalty is no longer an option in Virginia. Both houses of the US state parliament voted in favor of the abolition, with the only thing missing was the signature of Governor Ralph Northam. His approval is considered certain, he has already announced the signing of a corresponding law.
“This is an important step forward to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and equitable,” said Northam on Monday in a joint statement with House Chairwoman Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw.
“In Virginia’s long history, this state has executed more people than any other state,” the statement said. “It’s time we put an end to this machinery of death.” The death penalty is not a fair and effective instrument of criminal justice, it said. Since 1976, there have been 113 executions in the state, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Death penalty is still allowed in more than half of the states
Overall, the death penalty is on the decline in the United States. In many places this has to do with changing public opinion, but also with increasing difficulties in obtaining the necessary substances for lethal injection. In addition, the death penalty tends to lead to lengthy – and costly – legal disputes.
In the US, 22 of the 50 states have so far abolished the death penalty. In many others it still exists legally, but has not been used for a long time. Some states, like Oregon, have imposed moratoriums that prohibit the death penalty from being carried out.
Such a moratorium also applied at the federal level for 17 years. Last year, however, it became clear that this does not protect against the reintroduction of the death penalty: Donald Trump had the executions resumed in the summer of 2020 and thus initiated ten executions in the last six months of his term – as many as in the previous seven decades at the federal level .
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, a total of 17 people were executed by five states and the federal government in the United States in 2020.
New President Joe Biden opposes the death penalty.
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