On Wednesday, the Virginia Senate approved legislation to abolish the death penalty, bringing the state one step closer to becoming the 23rd state to do so. The upper chamber of the General Assembly voted 21-17 on the bill along party lines. The Virginia House of Delegates must still vote on the legislation — and the two chambers must agree on a matching bill — before it can be sent to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for signature.
Gov. Northam, called for the repeal of the death penalty during his State of the Commonwealth address last month, saying, “It’s time to change the law and end the death penalty in Virginia. We’re taking these actions because we value people, and because we believe in treating people equitably. That matters in policy, and it matters in symbols.”
Twenty-two states have abolished the death penalty and three have moratoriums on the practice. President Joe Biden has promised to work toward repeal at the federal level.