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On Monday, state lawmakers approved a bill to abolish the death penalty in Virginia, and it’ll now be sent to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam.
The bill will end capital punishment in the state, which has executed more individuals than any other state in the country. The Associated Press reports that Northam has said he will sign the measure into law, which will make Virginia the 23rd state to end capital punishment. The effort was pushed by Virginia’s Democratic majority, with much criticism directed at how the death penalty has often been used disproportionately on people of color and the mentally ill.
While Republicans have raised concerns regarding the bill, because of course they’re concerned about the prospect of less death in America, both the House and Senate approved separate repeal bills this month. The bill comes as two people in Virginia remain on death row: Anthony Juniper, who was sentenced to death for the 2004 killing of his ex-girlfriend, two of her children, and her brother; and Thomas Porter for the ’05 killing of a police officer. The bill would see their sentences converted to life in prison without parole.
The death penalty was reinstituted in the state in 1977 following the case of Gregg v. Georgia, and since 1982 the state has executed a total of 113 people by either lethal injection or electrocution. Throughout the history of Virginia, the state is estimated to have executed almost 1,400 people, the Death Penalty Information Center has reported.
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