RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam will introduce legislation to abolish the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Northam confirmed his intentions in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Tuesday.
"I’ve felt strongly about this for a long time,” the governor said told the paper.
The governor is expected to endorse the legislation during his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday at 7 p.m.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Attorney General Mark Herring expressing his support for Northam's efforts to end the death penalty in the 2020 legislative session.
“It is time for Virginia to end the death penalty and I will support Governor Northam’s efforts to make it happen this year. Its abolition must be part of our work to reform a flawed and imperfect criminal justice system.” he added.
Del. Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), who is running for attorney general, announced he would be the chief co-patron for legislation to abolish the death penalty.
“I believe deeply in my soul that the death penalty is abhorrent and must be abolished immediately,” said Jones. “The Commonwealth shouldn’t be in the business of killing its citizens, plain and simple, and it is time we meet the moment and end this despicable practice once and for all. It is no secret that this practice impacts Black citizens more than any other group, and this is not only alarming but a necessary reform to our justice system that treats every person fairly and similarly under the law.”
If Northam's legislation is successful, Virginia would be the first state in the south to end capital punishment.