Feb 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Virginia legislature votes to abolish the death penalty

Picture of the Virginia State Capitol

The Virginia State Capitol. Virginia legislators on Friday voted to abolish the state's death penalty. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia's House of Delegates on Friday passed legislation that abolished the death penalty in the state in a 57-41 vote.

Why it matters: Virginia is now the first southern state to ban executions.

  • The state Senate passed legislation to abolish it earlier this week.

What they're saying: "The repeal of capital punishment in Virginia takes our Commonwealth out of the business of determining life and death and ends a practice that a majority of Virginians oppose," House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) said after the vote, per The Washington Post.

What to watch: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is expected to sign the bill.

  • It's "important that we shut down the machinery of death here in Virginia," Northam said.

Between the lines: President Biden campaigned on abolishing the federal death penalty, but has taken no action since his inauguration.

  • Several members of Congress have urged Biden to "prioritize abolishing the death penalty," CNN writes.
  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked in January about the president's pledge to end the practice, but she said that there were no updates on "future actions or mechanisms."
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