Virginia legislators appear poised to abolish the death penalty in the coming days, a step that would make it the first Southern state to end the practice of capital punishment.
A bill to end capital punishment passed the state Senate on Wednesday by a 21-17 margin. The state House of Delegates is set to take up companion legislation as early as Friday. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) supports an end to the death penalty.
“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,” Northam said after the Senate acted.
Virginia would be the 23rd state to have abolished the death penalty. Colorado legislators did so in 2020.