“Virginia Departs the Death Game.”
The state of Virginia, long the center of the American system of using the death penalty, has now, just days ago, abolished it. Virginia, the state from which most U.S. presidents have emerged, has been using the death penalty for over 400 years.
But on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021, Governor Ralph S. Northam signed a bill abolishing Virginia’s capital punishment program. This marked the first state of the former Confederacy in the South to formerly abolish its death penalty. It marked the 23rd of the United States to abolish the practice.
In Virginia, the death penalty dispatched some 1,300 souls over its long exercise. According to the New York Times, the 20th century of Virginia’s death row saw 377 prisoners executed, of which 79% were black. That salient fact may have marked the legal formal end of Virginia’s exercise of the death penalty. The governor told reporters ending the death penalty comes down to one fundamental question: is it fair? New York Times, March 25th, 2021.
The abolition itself seems to answer the question, but it’s also possible that given the economic aftermath with the COVID-19 pandemic, states like Virginia face serious fiscal challenge. For as businesses closed, tax revenues diminished substantially. Virginia shows us that even the death penalty can die.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.