Virginia has become the first southern state and the 23rd overall in the United States to abolish the death penalty. Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam signed a Bill on Wednesday to end capital punishment in the state amid rising opposition to the practice.
“Ending the death penalty comes down to one fundamental question, one question: Is it fair?” Mr Northam said after he completed a tour of the state’s execution chamber. “For the state to apply this ultimate, final punishment, the answer needs to be yes. Fair means that it is applied equally to anyone, no matter who they are. And fair means that we get it right, that the person punished for the crime did the crime.
“But,” he added, “we all know that the death penalty cannot meet those criteria.”
Virginia’s 413-year history of capital punishment, during which it executed more than 1,300 inmates, more than any other state. He also noted racial disparities in the use of the death penalty: during the 20th century, he said, 296 of the 377 inmates Virginia executed for murder – about 79 per cent – were black.
As per New York Times, Mr. Biden’s plans to do with the remaining condemned inmates remain unclear. His new attorney general, Merrick Garland, has also expressed concerns about the death penalty.