RICHMOND—Delegate Mike Mullin’s measure to abolish the Death Penalty in Virginia (HB 2263) passed the Senate today with a vote of 22-16, sending the legislation to the Office of Governor Ralph Northam for further action. The bill would also convert the sentences of inmates currently on Virginia’s death row to sentences of life in prison without parole. Gov. Northam has stated his support for ending this practice in Virginia.
Today’s vote continues Virginia on its track to becoming the first Southern state and the 23rd state in the United States to end the death penalty. Virginia has executed 1,389 people since 1608, 113 just since 1976, making Virginia second only to Texas in executions since the death penalty was reinstated, leading it to be considered a “heartland death penalty state.” Historically in Commonwealth, courts had disproportionately administered the death penalty in cases involving low-income and minority defendants.
The House of Delegates passed HB 2263 on February 5 with the support of three Republicans.