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    Virginia abolishes death penalty

    An increasing number of states are abolishing the death penalty. This map will have to be updated now that Virginia has changed its law. (Photo from Wiki Commons)

    In early February, Virginia lawmakers passed legislation r to abolish the death penalty. This is a monumental step for a state that has executed 113 people since 1776, has a higher percentage of death row inmates than any other state and the second most total executions.

    The death penalty has been around for generations, and it even existed when Virginia was being colonized. People were even put to Virginia’s earliest city, Jamestown.

    “I approve of Virginia’s decision to eliminate the death penalty,” stated Dr. Harry Rissetto, religion teacher and Virginia resident. “Here’s the bottom line— human life is sacred.  From conception all the way through natural death every human being possesses an inherent and inalienable dignity granted by God.  To take human life in any form is an affront to that reality and an offense before God.”

    Virginia’s decision also helps fuel growing hope that other states in the South will follow.

    A gurney in Huntsville, Texas, where death row inmates are strapped down to receive a lethal dose of drugs. (Photo from AP)

    “I was thrilled to see Virginia abolish the death penalty, especially since it is the first Southern state to do so. I think that is a really hopeful sign that other Southern states might follow,” stated Ms. Shannon Berry, a religion teacher here at Gonzaga. “Especially in the wake of a rash of federal executions within the past nine months, this is especially hopeful and definitely something to celebrate as a victory for the protection of life and the consistent ethic of life— two core concepts within Catholic ethics.”

    Virginia’s move could spark the end capital punishment and the death penalty in the United States as a whole. The landmark decision is one that can set an example for other states to follow. 

    The Commonwealth has made many progressive decisions recently, so the abolition of the death penalty fits right in. Last year, lawmakers passed some of the region’s strictest gun laws, broadest LGBTQ protections, and its highest minimum wage

    Some student’s approve of the move, as well. 

    “Abolishing the death penalty is good because it doesn’t help heal anyone” Alex Gerlach, a Gonzaga senior and Virginia resident said. “It just causes more death”.

    Other students who live in Virginia agree.

    “The move from state of Virginia to abolish the death penalty is the right step in the right direction to a more merciful world” said Joe Tramonte, senior.

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