Virginia, first southern state to abolish the death penalty

Virginia authorities succeed in abolishing the death penalty. With the historic decision, Virginia became the first southern state to abo...

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  • Virginia authorities succeed in abolishing the death penalty.
  • With the historic decision, Virginia became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty.
  • Now Virginia will join the other 22 states that have succeeded in abolishing the death penalty.

Virginia managed to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday after having executed some 1,400 people since colonial times and thus became the first former confederate state to get rid of the final punishment, reported the news agency Eph.

The governor of Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam, sealed the abolition bill that was previously approved by the two state legislatures, both also under progressive control, said the aforementioned agency.

Virginia succeeds in abolishing the death penalty

Virginia death penalty

Following the historic decision, Governor Ralph Northam thanked legislators for making it easy for the important law to reach his table and said: “Virginia will join 22 other states that have ended the use of the death penalty.”

“This is an important step to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and equal for all,” he said. In this way, Virginia becomes the 23rd state – out of 50 – to abolish the death penalty in the United States, but its determination to apply it for decades leaves a taste of the end of the era.

From 1608 to 2017, four centuries of executions

Virginia death penalty

That of Captain George Kendall in 1608, accused of treason, is considered the first execution in the United States still in the time of the English colony of Virginia. More than four centuries later, in 2017, the state ended the life of William Morva, his last executed, Efe said.

Between them, Virginia has executed about 1,400 people, more than any other state, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) observatory: from pirates in the 18th century to John Allen Muhammad, the “sniper of Washington ”, killed by hanging, shot, in the electric chair or more recently with a lethal injection. With 113 executions since the Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976, what is considered the modern period of capital punishment in the United States, only Texas surpasses Virginia in executions, Efe detailed.

The transformation

Virginia death penalty

The Virginia of 2021, increasingly metropolitan to Washington, sees very far the one that during the Civil War hosted the capital of the Confederacy in Richmond, or the one that in 1967 was forced by the Supreme Court to accept interracial marriages.

In fact, they were relatives of victims of those sentenced to death, including a daughter of the police officer murdered by Morva, who asked the Legislative of Virginia to end the executions in 2019, recently taken over by the Democrats.

Death row is over

Virginia death penalty

With the death penalty terminated, Virginia has also commuted the only two prisoners left on death row to life sentences. This is Anthony Juniper, convicted of murdering 4 people, including two girls; and Thomas Porter, who killed a policeman.

“We have five dead Virginians that this law will make their murderers never receive justice,” said at a hearing the Republican legislator Rob Bell, who like the vast majority of his colleagues opposed the measure to abolish the death penalty.

A death sentence in agony

In his last six months in power, former President Donald Trump, who left the White House on January 20, awakened from a coma to the federal death penalty to order the unprecedented execution of 13 prisoners, revealing a doctored image. the state of health of capital punishment in the United States.

The truth is that in the last decade public opinion has turned its back on the death penalty, sentences have plummeted and so have executions: from 98 in 1999 spread across the country to 22 in 2019 , limited to a handful of southern states like Texas, Georgia or Alabama.

Pharmaceutical companies support abolishing the death penalty

Defections from states that drop death sentences are becoming more frequent, pharmaceutical companies refuse to supply their drugs for lethal injections, and lawsuits still rage over a series of failed executions years ago.

The decline in capital punishment is evident, although its end is not yet on the horizon. Five years ago, it seemed that a progressive Supreme Court could ban it once and for all, but that window was closed with the right-wing majority propped up by Trump in court, condemning the death penalty to its own agonizing end.

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