Amnesty International USA applauds Virginia for abolishing death penalty

Amnesty International USA on Wednesday applauded Virginia for Abolishing the death penalty. Virginia has the second highest number of executions in the United States after Texas.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill to abolish the death penalty in the Commonwealth early on Tuesday, saying the system does not always get it right.

Kristina Roth, Senior Advocate for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA welcomed the news in a statement. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally.

Roth wrote: “We welcome this news. The death penalty is irreversible, it is ineffective, and it does not deter crime. The way the death penalty is carried out is painful, violent, and inhumane, and it is targeted in this country disproportionately against communities of color. The use of the death penalty as a punishment is outdated, fundamentally broken and must end once and for all.

“With Governor Northam’s signature today, Virginia has now joined 22 other states, including Washington, D.C., that have abandoned the death penalty. Virginia, once a stronghold of the confederacy, now becomes the first Southern state to end the ultimate denial of human rights that is the death penalty.  Virginia has the record for most executions in U.S. history, and a sordid past with the use of  the death penalty against Black people, applied arbitrarily. A Black defendant in Virginia is three times more likely to be sentenced to death if the victim is white rather than Black. 

“Beginning in 2020, the Trump administration carried out 13 federal executions, breaking a 17-year hiatus from the ultimate punishment. These federal executions raised the specter of the same irreparable problems we know the death penalty has at all levels, including racial bias, the executions of people with intellectual disabilities and arbitrariness of defendants sentenced to death. This step from Virginia is a welcome unintended consequence of the Trump execution spree. We hope to see more states work to retire this most extreme punishment to where it belongs — as a relic of the past, not a part of our future.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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