The Virginia legislature on Monday approved legislation to eliminate capital punishment, meaning that the state is poised to become the 23rd in the union to nix utilization of the death penalty as the matter now heads to a supportive Gov. Ralph Northam.
"Thanks to the vote of lawmakers in both chambers, Virginia will join 22 other states that have ended use of the death penalty. This is an important step forward in ensuring that our criminal justice system is fair and equitable to all," Northam, state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and state Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said in a joint statement. The three state leaders are all Democrats.
If the legislation is approved, the two men currently on the state's death row would instead have sentences of life imprisonment without parole, according to the Associated Press.
Some state GOP lawmakers joined with state Democrats in approving the move, according to the outlet.
"On Monday, both chambers approved separate but identical repeal bills," the wire service reported. "The Senate approved a House bill, advancing it to Northam on a 22-16 vote. Republican Sen. Jill Vogel joined with Democrats in the chamber in voting for passage. Later Monday, House Democrats and two GOP members, Del. Jeff Campbell and Del. Carrie Coyner, voted to approve the Senate version, 57-43."