The ACLU of Virginia opposes capital punishment and advocates for both abolition and reform of the death penalty in Virginia. We support moratorium and repeal movements and oppose all expansions of the death penalty through public education and advocacy.
Capital punishment is a broken process that we need to end. Punishment is arbitrarily applied based on where the crime was committed or who the victim is rather than the seriousness of the offense. Virginia’s death penalty laws fail to protect the innocent, the intellectually disabled, and the mentally ill from being convicted.
Did you know?
● There continue to be significant racial disparities in the application of the death penalty. Minority defendants are disproportionately sentenced to the death penalty, and crimes involving white victims are more likely to result in capital punishment compared with crimes involving victims of color.
● Between 1973 and 2016, 155 innocent individuals on death row were exonerated, including Earl Washington, Jr. in Virginia.
● In Virginia, Commonwealth’s attorneys have the sole authority to decide whether to seek the death penalty. Commonwealth’s attorneys use the death penalty as a tool to bully defendants into pleading guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.