Death Penalty Law Changes Considered In Virginia


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.”


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