The eastern state of Virginia in the US passed a bill in the state senate to abolish the death penalty on Wednesday, an initiative that if formed into a law will set the foundation for other US states and will mark a historical change in the state's policy.
The Democrat-controlled chamber approved the bill on a 21-17 vote, which came after a lengthy, emotional floor debate.
The state of Virginia, which is dominated by the Democratic party, passed the historical bill with a 21-17 voting outcome after emotional and intense deliberations on the matter. Virginia currently tops the list for carrying out most capital punishments in the US.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Scott Surovell said, "I cannot think of anything that is more awful, unspeakable and wrong for a government to do than to use its power to execute somebody who didn’t commit the crime they’re accused of. The problem with capital punishment is that once it’s inflicted you can’t take it back, it can’t be corrected."
While debating the specifics of the bill, the Republicans stood against it arguing that the bill would snatch away the opportunity to get justice from the victims and their families and would allow people the people who committed serious crimes to get parole.
Ralph Northam, the state's Democratic governor stated that he backs a full repeal and the bill is moving forward in the chamber.
In more than 400 years, the state of Virginia has executed around 1,400 people, which makes it the leading state to instate capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. According to the available statistics, Virginia holds the second spot, in contemporary times, second only to Texas.