McClellan Statement on Signing of Bill to Abolish Death Penalty

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

RICHMOND — Today, Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) released the following statement in response to Governor Ralph Northam signing of bills that will abolish the death penalty. Sen. McClellan is a co-patron of Sen. Scott Surovell’s (D-Fairfax) bill SB 1165, which Northam signed today. 

“Today, Virginia made history – for the right reasons,” Sen. McClellan said. “It is poetic justice that Virginia, the state that has executed more people than any other state in the country, has now abolished the death penalty. I was proud to co-sponsor the bill with Sen. Surovell to finally end this outdated system of barbaric punishment that disproportionately punished Black and brown people. Thank you to Gov. Northam for signing our historic bill into law.

“On this historic day, I’m thinking of the late Jerry Givens. Jerry was a former Virginia executioner who became an anti-death penalty advocate. His life story helped open minds and hearts leading up to this moment. While we reflect on this day as an historic achievement that has brought the Commonwealth closer to justice, we must remain committed to reforming our justice system and rooting out the legacy of Jim Crow.”

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.