McClellan Statement on Passage of Bill to Abolish Death Penalty

McClellan is co-patron of bill to end death penalty in Virginia

Today, Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) released the following statement on the Virginia General Assembly’s passage of HB 2263 (Delegate Mike Mullin) and SB 1165 (Senator Scott Surovell) to abolish the death penalty. Sen. McClellan is a co-patron of Sen. Scott Surovell’s (D-Fairfax) bill (SB 1165). The bills now head to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk for signature. 

“This is a historic day for criminal justice reform in Virginia. Today’s vote sets Virginia on a path to end a barbaric system that disproportionately punished Black and Brown people. Ending capital punishment is a critical step on the long path to build a justice system that is truly just. 

“I’m proud to co-patron this bill that will make Virginia the first state in the South to abolish the death penalty. 

“Today, I cast my vote on this bill in honor of the memory of Mr. Jerry Givens, who served as Virginia’s chief executioner.  After carrying out 62 executions, Jerry became a passionate advocate for abolishing the death penalty, testifying before the General Assembly and other legislatures across America. Unfortunately, Jerry did not live to see this day, succumbing to COVID-19 last year.  However, his impact in ending the death penalty could be felt in the room today.

“I look forward to Governor Northam signing these bills.”

McClellan has opposed expansion of the death penalty during her 15 years in the Virginia legislature. In 2020, she voted in support of bills to abolish the death penalty and create a death penalty moratorium. She has voted multiple times for bills to ban the death penalty for individuals with severe mental illness and against expanding the types of crimes for which the death penalty is applicable. In 2015 and 2016, McClellan voted against bills to allow the Commonwealth to hire pharmacies to manufacture lethal injection drugs and hide their identity from the public.

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Jennifer McClellan was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2017 after serving 11 years in the House of Delegates. She has been a leader on fighting climate change, strengthening public education and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, protecting voting rights, enacting criminal justice reform, combating domestic and sexual violence, and fighting discrimination of all kinds.