Virginia becomes first southern state to abolish the death penalty

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam answers a reporter’s question during a press briefing inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

JARRATT, Va. (AP) – Virginia has become the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed the historic legislation on Wednesday.

The state has had the second-highest number of executions in the United States. Virginia’s new Democratic majority won a years long battle last month when both the Senate and House of Delegates approved bills to end capital punishment.

Virginia has put to death nearly 1,400 people since its days as a colony. In modern times, the state is second only to Texas in the number of executions it has carried out, with 113 since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

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