Until now, he was the leader in the country in the number of executions carried out, writes The Washington Post.

A bill to abolish the death penalty in the US state of Virginia on Monday was finally approved by local lawmakers and sent for signature to Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, who intends to sign it. Thus, it will become the first state in the Southern United States to eliminate this type of punishment at the legislative level, The Washington Post reports.

Virginia will become the 23rd state to refuse to carry out the death penalty. They will be commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

According to the newspaper, this state has so far been the leader in the number of executions carried out on its territory. So, for all the time of Virginia’s existence, which was first an English colony and then a state within the United States, its authorities executed almost 1,4 thousand people. The first execution took place in 1608 when a man who was considered a Spanish spy was executed in Jamestown – the first settlement of the English in the modern United States territory.

“In the long history of Virginia, this state has executed more people than any other. <…> It’s time to stop this killing machine,” said a joint statement from Governor Northam, State Senate Democratic Majority Leader Richard Saslow, and State House Speaker Eileen Filler-Korn, a Democrat.

In December, several dozen members of the US Congress called on the current US President, Democrat Joe Biden, who, during his election campaign, promised to abolish the death penalty at the federal level to achieve its abolition at the state level.

In 2019, during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump, then-Justice Secretary and Attorney General William Barr resumed the practice of capital punishment for criminals convicted at the federal level. Last year, for the first time in American history, the number of executions carried out by federal authorities in a year exceeded this figure for the total of all states.