Virginia

General Information

Death Penalty: Yes
Date of Reinstatement (following Furman v. Georgia): October 1, 1975
Location of Death Row: Sussex I State Prison, Waverly
Location of Executions: Greenville Correctional Facility, Jarratt

Capital: Richmond
Population: 8,001,024
Governor: Terry McAuliffe
Legislative Information: Senate and House of Delegates

LATEST NEWS AND DEVELOPMENTS IN VIRGINIA
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Death Sentences 1994-2012

DPIC's State Database for information on executions, death row population and other statistics in Virginia
History of the Death Penalty
Resources

Great Falls National Park.  Photo by Kenneth England


History of the Death Penalty

Executions in Virginia were carried out by hanging for 300 years, until the first electrocution in 1908. The last execution by hanging occurred on April 9, 1909. 

Famous cases

"DC sniper": John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were both tried in Virginia for a series of shootings that occurred in October, 2002. Although the crime happened in Maryland and Washington, DC, as well as Virginia, the first trials were held in Virginia, in part, because Virginia allowed the execution of juveniles. Malvo was 17 at the time of the crimes. Muhammad was executed on November 10, 2009. Malvo is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Daryl Atkins was sentenced to death for the abduction and murder of Eric Nesbitt. Atkins appealed his sentence, claiming that his intellectual disability made him ineligible for execution. Atkins' appeal was heard by the Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia (2002), and the Court held that the execution of "mentally retarded" defendants is unconstitutional.

Notable Exonerations

Earl Washington was pardoned in 2000 after DNA evidence excluded him as a perpetrator in the rape and murder for which he had been sentenced to death. Washington is intellectually disabled, and had been coerced into confessing to the crime.

Virginia "firsts"

The first execution in what is now the United States took place in Virginia. Captain George Kendall was executed in the Jamestown colony in 1608 for spying for Spain.

Other interesting facts

Virginia has executed more people in its history than any other state. 

On February 2, 1951, 5 inmates were executed, the largest number of executions carried out on a single day in Virginia.


Resources

Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Department of Corrections

Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center

Victims' services

Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Counsel

Public defender's office



 


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