Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Virginia: Reprieve (Background, Update)

Virginia has executed 98 people since 1976, a figure that is second only to the State of Texas. Since becoming governor in 2006, Timothy M. Kaine Kaine (D) has carried out four executions. He has issued three stays, but has yet to commute a death sentence. Yesterday, Kaine rescheduled Edward Nathaniel Bell's execution for July 24. It is hoped that, by that point in time, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of lethal injection (in the case Baze v. Rees). A separate Virginia execution scheduled for next week and three others scheduled for July, will also be delayed. Meanwhile, 30 executions in other states have also been put on hold, dating back to September of last year, in apparent anticipation of the High Court's ruling. So, arguably, Virginia is simply lining up with everyone else. Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) has called Kaine's decision “premature,” however, and suggests the decision to grant a stay is more appropriately a "legal decision to be made by a court.” As a gubernatorial candidate, Kaine professed that he was "personally opposed" to the death penalty but pledged that he would carry out the sanction if elected. See story here.

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