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Northam Hails Passage of Anti-Death Penalty Bill

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued the following statement Wednesday after the Senate of Virginia voted on legislation sponsored by Senator Scott Surovell to ban capital punishment in the Commonwealth, which passed by 21 to 17 margin.     

“Today’s vote in the Virginia Senate is a tremendous step toward ending the death penalty in our Commonwealth. Virginia has executed more people than any other state. The practice is fundamentally inequitable. It is inhumane. It is ineffective. And we know that in some cases, people on death row have been found innocent.     

“It’s time for Virginia to join 22 other states and abolish the death penalty. I applaud every Senator who cast a courageous vote today, and I look forward to signing this bill into law.”     

The House of Delegates is considering a companion bill to abolish the death penalty, sponsored by Delegate Mike Mullin. The bill advanced out of committee today, but the full body has not yet voted on it.

On Friday, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington and Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond issued the following statement on passage of death penalty abolition legislation:

“We welcome today’s vote by the Virginia House of Delegates to abolish the death penalty, as well as the vote by the Virginia Senate to do so earlier this week.  In the words of Pope Francis, ‘Nowadays the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person. It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice.’”