RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Commonwealth is donating items used to implement execution, including an electric chair and medical gurney, to the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond, according to the office of Governor Ralph Northam.
Gov. Northam said this donation “closes the era of state-sponsored execution in Virginia.”
“The commonwealth asked the museum to accept these items, as they have the curatorial expertise to appropriately manage and interpret such materials,” Northam said in the announcement. “The commonwealth’s history of using capital punishment is an important part of history, and the museum is focused on telling Virginia’s full and true story for future generations.”
In March 2021, Virginia became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty and ban capital punishment. Northam’s office said prior to this, the state executed over 1,300 people in its history — more than any other state.
The announcement said one of the items being donated is an oak electric chair the state acquired 114 years ago to execute people sentenced to death. The chair was used to execute 267 people and was originally installed at the Virginia State Penitentiary in 1908. It was later moved to the Greensville Correctional Center, where it sat even when Virginia moved to executions by lethal injections.
Another implement being donated is the medical gurney used for lethal injections.
The governor’s office said these and other items were removed from Greensville Correctional Center to the museum earlier this week.
Since capital punishment has been abolished, this week Northam commuted the death sentence of two inmates on death row, Thomas Porter and Anthony Juniper, to life in prison. These two will not be eligible for parole, any good conduct allowance or any earned sentence credits or conditional release.