On Monday, Virginia state lawmakers approved legislation that would abolish the death penalty from being executed in the state.
According to CNN, Virginia’s Senate voted 22-16 on Monday in finalizing approval of the bill, HB 2263. At the present time, the bill awaits final approval from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to sign it into law.
In a joint statement with Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, Northam condemned the death penalty, calling it “inequitable, ineffective, and inhumane.”
“It is vital that our criminal justice system operates fairly and punishes people equitably. We all know the death penalty doesn’t do that,” the statement asserts.
The statement noted that throughout Virginia’s long history, “this Commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And, like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executing an innocent person. It’s time we stop this machinery of death.”
At the conclusion of the statement, the leaders hope that the state’s abolishment of the death penalty is “an important step forward in ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair and equitable to all.”
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Virginia has more executions than any other U.S. state since its first recorded execution in 1608. The state is known to have executed over 1,300 people.
The passage of the bill makes Virginia the 23rd state in the nation to ban capital punishment.
On Monday, Northam spokesperson Alena Yarmosky told CNN that the governor’s office will receive the bill in a few days.
Once the bill is signed, the legislation will go into effect in July. Additionally, existing death penalty sentences will be lessened to life imprisonment without parole.
The legislation, however, is not without opposition with opponents arguing that the death penalty is justice for the victims of the crimes.
Earlier this month, Republican state Del. Jason Miyares contended that "victims have been completely left out in this debate over the death penalty."
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.