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Virginia lawmakers vote to make state first in South to abolish death penalty

February 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

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RICHMOND, VA - APRIL 16: The Virginia State Capitol is pictured on April 16, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. ReOpen Virginia, End The Lockdown VA and Virginians Against Excessive Quarantine gathered to protest continuing COVID-19 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's Stay at Home order. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Virginia state lawmakers on Monday approved legislation that would abolish the death penalty in the state, moving the Old Dominion one step closer to becoming the first southern state to outlaw the practice.

Washington (CNN)Virginia state lawmakers on Monday approved legislation that would abolish the death penalty in the state, moving the Old Dominion one step closer to becoming the first southern state to outlaw the practice.

The Democratic governor has previously signaled he intends to sign the legislation into law and called the death penalty "inequitable, ineffective, and inhumane" in a joint statement following the bill's passage.

"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 executing an innocent person.

It's time we stop this machinery of death," he said in the statement with Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw.

Virginia's Senate voted 22-16 Monday to give final approval to the measure.

The bill would make Virginia the 23rd state to ban capital punishment and the first southern state to repeal the death penalty since the US Supreme Court reinstated the punishment in 1976.

Virginia has executed more than 1,300 people -- more than any other state since the Jamestown colony's first recorded execution in 1608 for espionage, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Opponents of the legislation have argued that the death penalty is about justice for victims of crimes, with GOP state Del. Jason Miyares arguing earlier this month that "victims have been completely left out in this debate over the death penalty. "

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