Death Penalty Abolition Advances

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Photo credit Andy Doernen/Newsradio WRVA
By Newsradio 1140 WRVA

Richmond, Va. (Newsradiowrva.com) - The move the abolish the death penalty in Virginia has cleared its first hurdle.  The Senate Judiciary Committee approved an abolition bill, which will now head to Senate Finance because of the costs involved.

Governor Ralph Northam (D) is backing the effort.  Northam says the penalty is not being used equitably, with white victims more likely to see their killers executed than black victims.

Those in opposition mostly came from the police field, who wanted it to at least remain for those that kill officers.  Among those in opposition was Michelle Dermyer, whose officer husband was shot and killed at the Richmond Greyhound station in 2016.  His killer was actually shot and killed in the same incident.

Virginia has executed the second most prisoners since the executions resumed in the 1970s.