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Virginia to become 23rd US state to abolish death penalty after nearly 1,400 executions
24 March 2021, 07:48
The death penalty is to be abolished in Virginia after almost 1,400 state-sanctioned executions in its history.
Governor Ralph Northam will tour the death chamber at the Greensville Correction Centre on Wednesday and plans to sign the landmark legislation.
The announcement follows a dramatic vote to abolish capital punishment following success for the Democrats in local elections last year.
The state has a long and prolific history of carrying out executions, with almost 1,400 people put to death since its days as a colony.
Virginia will become the 23rd state in the US to abolish the death penalty, following abolition by Colorado last year and New Hampshire in 2019.
Famous criminals to face a state-sanctioned lethal injection include John Allen Muhammad, one of two people responsible for the 'DC sniper' shootings in October 2002, which killed 10 people and left three critically injured.
In modern times, Virginia is second only to Texas in the number of executions it has carried out, with 113 since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
The last execution in the state was in July 2017, when William Morva was executed via lethal injection for shooting a Sheriff's Deputy Corporal and a hospital security guard.
Last month, Virginia's new Democratic majority won a lengthy battle when both the Senate and House of Delegates approved bills to end capital punishment.
Then controversial punishment has faced criticism over a number of cases, including the 'Martinsville 7', when seven African American men charged with the rape of a white woman were put to death, despite the widespread belief that at least five of the men were innocent.