Virginia set to become 23rd state to abolish death penalty after state House passes bill

Va Capitol
Photo provided by CNN.

Virginia is set to become the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty, after the state House of Delegates passed legislation Friday that would end capital punishment in the Commonwealth a day after the state Senate passed a similar bill and the governor said he plans to sign it.

Friday’s vote on the bill in the House of Delegates was 57-41.

Virginia’s Senate passed their version of the bill on Wednesday on a party-line vote, and it was referred to a House committee Friday.

The two bills will need to be approved by the other chamber, and Virginia House Democrats are “confident that both bills will be passed by both chambers, as they are identical,” the majority’s press secretary Kate Sarna told CNN.

But Friday’s passage in the House effectively guarantees the legislation will reach the governor’s desk.

Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam supports abolishing the death penalty, and after the Senate’s vote on Wednesday, said he looks forward to signing the bill.

Virginia has executed more than 1,300 people — more than any other state since the Jamestown colony’s first recorded execution in 1608 for espionage, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

If the bill is signed into law, Virginia would be the first southern state to repeal the death penalty since the US Supreme Court reinstated the punishment in 1976.