Senate panel advances bill to abolish death penalty in Virginia

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Legislation aimed at ending the death penalty in Virginia passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 10-4 vote Monday, with one GOP senator joining nine Democrats in support of the bill.

Ahead of his State of the Commonwealth address last week, Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration said the governor would introduce legislation to abolish capital punishment during this year’s General Assembly session.

Measures to abolish the death penalty in Virginia were submitted ahead of the session, including bills from gubernatorial hopeful Del. Lee Carter (D- Manassas) and Sen. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax).

The committee debated Surovell’s bill on Monday, eventually voting to re-refer it to the Senate Finance Committee. If any measure passes this year, Virginia the first state in the South to end the death penalty.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court let states resume the death penalty in 1976, Virginia has conducted the second most executions, 113, behind only Texas. Despite this, the last execution in Virginia was in 2017.

Data from the Death Penalty Information Center says that 25 states still have the death penalty, 22 don’t and three have moratoriums imposed by their governors.

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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