“Over Virginia’s long history, this commonwealth has executed more people than any other state. And, like many other states, Virginia has come too close to executing an innocent person. It’s time we stop this machinery of death,” he said in the statement with Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Virginia Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw.
Virginia’s Senate voted 22-16 Monday to give final approval to the measure. The provision had previously passed the House in a 57-41 vote.
Northam spokesperson Alena Yarmosky told CNN on Monday that the governor’s office expects to receive the bill in “a few days” after it clears a number of routine administrative actions.
Once signed, the legislation will go into effect in July. It will also commute existing death sentences to life imprisonment without parole.
The bill would make Virginia the 23rd state to ban capital punishment and the first southern state to repeal the death penalty since the US Supreme Court reinstated the punishment in 1976.
Opponents of the legislation have argued that the death penalty is about justice for victims of crimes, with GOP state Del. Jason Miyares arguing earlier this month that “victims have been completely left out in this debate over the death penalty.”