Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill that abolishes the use of the death penalty throughout the state Wednesday, according to Fox News.
Northam toured the death chamber at the Greensville Correctional Center before signing the legislation on site, Fox News reported. “There is no place for the death penalty in this state, in the south or in this country,” Northam said in a speech during the bill-signing event, according to ABC8 News.
Virginia, second only to Texas in the number of executions, will be the 23rd state in the Union to abolish the death penalty, according to Fox News.
In February, both the Democratic-controlled Senate and House of Delegates voted to approve the measure in Virginia, 22-16 and 57-43, respectively.
With final passage in the Virginia House and Senate, our Commonwealth will soon join 22 states in abolishing the death penalty—an important step in ensuring our criminal justice system is fair and equitable.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 22, 2021
“It is vital that our criminal justice system operates fairly and punishes people equitably,” read a joint statement from Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw.
“Over Virginia’s long history, this Commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And, like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executive an innocent person. It’s time we stop this machinery of death,” the statement continued. (RELATED: The State Of The Death Penalty In America)
Virginia has executed almost 1,400 people throughout its history. In 1608, it carried out what is believed to be the first execution in what became the United States against Captain George Kendall. Life sentences will be altered for individuals in Virginia currently on death row.
The Supreme Court ruled to reinstate the death penalty in a series of cases called the Gregg cases in 1976, according to the National Constitution Center.