US: Virgina, the first South state abolished death penalty
On 24th March, Virginia state abolished death penalty. Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill abolishing the death penalty in Virginia, making Virginia the 23rd state, and the first in the South to repeal the death penalty. Automatically, sentences are for life, as is the case for two men waiting on death row.
Including the three states in which governors have formally imposed moratoria on executions, a majority of U.S. states, some 26 now either no longer authorize or will not carry out the death penalty.
A symbolic act, a positive message for other states
It is the first state from South who made his decision. It is a symbolic date as the day after United of Nations commemored International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The Secretary general reminded “We must end the legacy of this racist lie”
Virginia’s abolition of capital punishment is tremendously significant, both in terms of the death penalty’s continuing nationwide decline and as an historical marker of race relations in the United States. No state that has relied so heavily on capital punishment has ever before repealed its death penalty. Going back to colonial times, Virginia has conducted more executions than any otherU.S. jurisdiction and, in the modern era, it trails only Texas in the number of people it has put to death.
Death penalty history in Virginia to nowaday
The commonwealth’s death penalty has deep roots in slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow segregation. Before the Civil War, Virginia explicitly provided different penalties for white people and its enslaved population. Although the Fourteen Amendment prohibited states from “depriv[ing] any person of life … without due process of law” and afforded all persons “the equal protection of the laws,” Virginia’s executions showed that in practice different rules were applied to white and Black defendants. From 1900 until the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for offenses that did not result in death in 1977, Virginia executed 73 Black men — but no one who was white — on charges of rape, attempted rape, or robbery.
The symbolic value of a legislature sitting in the former capital of the Confederacy dismantling this tool of racial oppression cannot be overstated.
Virginia’s repeal continues the erosion of capital punishment, both nationally and regionally. Virginia is the 11thstate in 16 years to abolish the death penalty. The punishment has disappeared from all of New England and the mid-Atlantic coastal states. With Virginia’s repeal, every coastal state north of the Carolinas has abolished capital punishment and one can now drive more than 1300 miles from the Canadian border of Maine to the Cumberland Gap border of Virginia and Tennessee without ever entering a death penalty state.
The commonwealth’s death penalty has deep roots in slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow segregation. Before the Civil War, Virginia explicitly provided different penalties for white people and its enslaved population. Although the Fourteen Amendment prohibited states from “depriv [ing] any person of life… without due process of law” and afforded all persons “the equal protection of the laws,” Virginia’s executions showed that in practice different.
The gouvernment of Virginia reminded that the state is the first execution performed by European colonists in what is now the United States. That ‘s why In the modern era, it has executed a greater proportion of those it condemned than has any other state. Its abolition of a policy long steeped in racism, with the support of every statewide elected official, is an important and historic step towards racial healing and a fairer criminal legal system
Source: The Death Penalty Information Center