Virginia legislators are studying changes in laws on the death penalty, including barring the the state from executing minors, reports the Washington Post. Measures on today’s agenda of a senate committee would allow felons to bring forward new evidence of innocence at any time. The state’s three-week deadline for allowing new, nonscientific evidence of innocence is the nation’s most restrictive.
In the House, a bill would raise the age limit of death penalty cases from 16 to 18. One person on death row in Virginia who was convicted of a crime when he was 17. The legislature may postpone action while the U.S. Supreme Court considers the issue.
The Senate gave preliminary approval yesterday to a bill that would grant two lawyers, rather than one, to defendants in capital cases who need public defenders.
Diann Rust-Tierney of the American Civil Liberties Union said that on the death penalty, “Virginia doesn’t have the best track record, but some of these bills start to address those inequities.”