Published on: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Ending Virginia’s history as the leading executioner in the country, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in the state on Wednesday. Previous coverage here and here.

Northam toured the death chamber then signed the measure at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia. "It is the moral thing to do to end the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia," said the governor.

With Wednesday’s bill signing, Virginia joins 22 other states in abolishing capital punishment. Two men remain on death row in Virginia. Their sentences will be commuted and turned into life without the possibility of parole. 

Virginia is the first state in what was the Confederacy to stop using the punishment. The commonwealth has executed more people than any other state since the first execution took place at Jamestown in 1608.