Virginia legislature votes to end death penalty

Here & Now


Virginia today. Lawmakers in the state house voted to abolish the death penalty and if governor ralph northam signs. The bill virginia would become the twenty third state to end capital punishment. Whitney evans is report for member station. Vpn and she joins us now from richmond and whitney. What's the latest in virginia. Where things stand with this bill. Hi yeah. Both chambers have now approved their versions of the bill but they still have to resolve a disagreement before it can actually go to the governor's desk and that's whether people who were at one time sentenced to die in virginia would perhaps be eligible for parole down the road and the senate is actually pushing for pearl eligibility. So are they going to have to vote. they're going to have to go into what's called a conference committee and hash it out and then they will have then and then it would go to the governor for his signature so democrats are in control of the state legislature in virginia. And the votes on this. Bill have been think largely on partisan lines party lines. But you note that at least a couple of republicans have shown some support along the way. Why is that news newsworthy. That's right well. Democrats have been wanting to abolish the death penalty for some time but they didn't have control of the legislature One republican senator. Bill stanley actually signed onto cosponsor. This bill The senate version of the bill but he backed out because senate democrats wanted to leave the parole provisions in and In the house today to republicans join their democratic colleagues to vote for the bill. In what are you hearing from other people who have an interest in keeping the death penalty groups supporting the victims families or maybe police advocates. How are they responding right. So law enforcement groups in virginia support the death penalty. They wanna make sure that people can still be sentenced to death particularly for killing police officer. the majority of virginia republicans. Again say You know they also support the death penalty and they say victims families deserve what they see. As as this form of justice mind you. I've spoken to numerous family members of victims. Not just in. Virginia who say you know it only makes healing more difficult. And they don't see it as justice at all. I really spoke to rachel. Set sutton the daughter of a police officer who was murdered by name. William in two thousand six more of it was executed in two thousand seventeen against his wishes. Did we just lose. Whitney their whitney. Are you okay well. Why don't we play that tape. If we're waiting for whitney to come back here on the line why don't we play that tape if we have it or many of us and we have continually spoken out that this is not what we wants however we want to honor that is who disagree with us and we are not speaking against them but against this issue that we see from combat society. Yes up and told me that following the whole process leading up to more of his execution was just really painful. Sorry for the technical difficulties. There whitney could you put this into context for us quickly. Virginia has a long history of executing people but actually hasn't done so in a few years. So what does that mean for. People who are still on death row right there to people on death row for capital murder. Both men are black in their forties One of those individuals was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her two young children. The other was sentenced to death for killing a police officer so abolishing. The death penalty in virginia would reduce their sentences to life in prison. All right whitney evans legal reporter for vpn in richmond. Virginia thank you so much. Thank you

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