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Virginia set to abolish death penalty

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Stake lawmakers have voted on a bill that will make Virginia the first state in the South to abolish the death penalty. Once the Virginia governor signs the bill, the law will go into effect. The state will be the 23rd state to remove the death penalty.

Virginia was once one of the most prolific death penalty states

Throughout its time as both a colony and a state, Virginia has had more executions than any other state in the United States. More than 1,300 people have been executed during the state’s history. In the late 1960s, the death sentence was determined to be unconstitutional by the federal government. This ruling was overturned in the late 1970s. Since 1982, 113 people have been executed in Virginia.

Proponents of the death penalty disagree with the decision

Those who voted against the passing of the bill in Virginia argue that the possibility of the death sentence is a powerful deterrent to crime. They believe that it is the only suitable sentence for heinous crimes. Republicans who opposed the bill tried to institute a minimum consequence of life without parole; this was ultimately voted to be removed from the bill.

Future of the death penalty in the United States

As science has advanced, an increasing number of people are being found to be wrongfully convicted. Advancements in DNA evidence have exonerated 375 people; 21 of these individuals were on death row. These wrongful convictions resulted in an average of 14 years of time served in prison. The possibility of killing an innocent individual is the reasoning behind many states abolishing their death penalty.

Experts believe that in the future, the death penalty may be abolished in every state across the country. Those who have been convicted of a crime have a right to appeal if new evidence, such as DNA, is found. Talking with a criminal defense lawyer may help an individual who has been wrongfully accused and faces significant penalties.