USA - Virginia. After Senate, House voted to abolish death penalty
February 5, 2021:
Virginia's House of Delegates voted Friday to abolish the death penalty, making it all but certain that the state would become the first in the South to do so.
The state Senate voted earlier this week to end capital punishment, and Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has said signing such a bill is a priority. It cleared the House on a vote of 57-41. 3 Republicans joined all of the chamber’s Democrats in voting for the bill. “Today, our Commonwealth took a historic step in making our criminal justice system more just,” House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said after the vote. “The repeal of capital punishment in Virginia takes our Commonwealth out of the business of determining life and death and ends a practice that a majority of Virginians oppose.” There is at least one significant hurdle left to resolve: The House version of the bill would preserve the ability to punish the most serious crimes with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The Senate version would allow some parole eligibility. The difference will likely be hammered out in a conference committee over the coming weeks before going to Northam’s desk. Virginia conducted the first recorded execution in what’s now the United States — in 1608 — and over the centuries has put more people to death than any other state, 1,389. In recent times, however, the use of the penalty has fallen. There are only 2 prisoners on death row in Virginia, and the penalty has not been used extensively in many years. Democrats said capital punishment has been applied in a racist way, citing studies that show Black defendants are far more likely to face execution than White prisoners. “The death penalty is the direct descendant of lynching. It is state-sponsored racism,” said Del. Jerrauld “Jay” Jones (D-Norfolk). Republicans mounted strenuous arguments on behalf of the victims of violent crime, and noting that some convicted killers have continued to commit murder while behind bars. “There will always be someone who chooses depravity and evil over good,” said Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach). Society needs to be able to administer the ultimate punishment in such cases, he said. “It’s not vengeance, it’s justice.” But Del. Michael Mullin (D-Newport News), a prosecutor for the city of Hampton who sponsored the House version of the bill, argued that the state should not be in the business of taking lives.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/virginia-death-penalty-marijuana/2021/02/05/2ac37662-6708-11eb-8c64-9595888caa15_story.html (Source: Washington Post, 05/02/2021)