Virginia Democratic Governor Northam to sign state death penalty ban

The death penalty has not been used in Virginia since 2017.

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation Wednesday that will ban the death penalty in the state.

Virginia abolishing the death penalty would make it the 23rd state to do so, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Virginia has not used the death penalty since 2017, according to the Associated Press.

The signing follows the state legislature approving a measure in February that would abolish the death penalty in the state.

Northam said in a statement that the penalty is "inequitable, ineffective, and inhumane."

He also said: "Over Virginia’s long history, this Commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executing an innocent person. It’s time we stop this machinery of death."

The state's move to ban capital punishment follows the Trump administration having increased the use of the death penalty.

A DPIC study found the federal government has performed more executions in the past year than states where the death penalty is permitted.

Virginia has carried out nearly 1,400 executions since it was a colony. In modern times, it ranks second, trailing only behind Texas, in terms of states who have used the death penalty the most.  The state has utilized capital punishment 113 times since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the wire service also reports.