Virginia is the first Southern state to officially abolish the death penalty on Wednesday. Governor Ralph Northam signed a law prohibiting the execution of prisoners. Virginia is the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty completely.
Since 1608, 1,390 people have been sentenced to death in Virginia. The last execution took place in 2017. Only in Texas were more executions carried out. The last state to say goodbye to the death penalty was Colorado, in 2020.
“As of today, there will be no place for the death penalty in Virginia, the south and this country,” said the governor during the signing of the law in Greensville prison. “Justice and punishment are not always the same. That has become very clear after 400 years of death penalty in Virginia.”
The Democrat had long campaigned for the new legislation. Northam called abolishing it a morally sound decision. “I can say that the death penalty is fundamentally wrong: we know that the legal system is not always right.”