Prosecutors Call for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Virginia
Press conference, Thursday, January 14, 2021, 10:00 am


RICHMOND – On Thursday, Jan. 14, at 10 am, prosecutors and advocates will come together for a virtual press conference (Zoom link) to call on legislators to abolish the death penalty in Virginia.

Three former Attorneys General and eleven Commonwealth’s Attorneys as well as other former prosecutors recently signed a letter to the General Assembly expressing their support for the abolition of the death penalty in the Commonwealth.

Their message: The death penalty is a failed government program. When the modern-day death penalty era began in 1976, lawmakers and prosecutors envisioned a severe and consistent punishment that would keep the public safe. That has not happened. During this press conference, prosecutors will express their concerns that justify repeal, including biased application, cost and ineffectiveness, and limited proof that the death penalty deters criminal behavior.

“The number of elected prosecutors supporting the repeal of the death penalty is surging across the country. While the reasons cited by prosecutors are many, there is an acknowledgment that ending the death penalty is imperative in a country grappling with racism in the legal system,” said Sarah Craft, Death Penalty Program Director at Equal Justice USA.

Prosecutors will also address a more cost-effective, constitutional way to respond to the most heinous crimes: a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Life without parole sentences help preserve limited resources, give more closure to victims’ families, and leave the opportunity to free the wrongfully convicted.

This is the year Virginia legislators can finally abolish the death penalty. Senator Scott Surovell (D, 36th) is the lead patron and Senator Bill Stanley (R, 20th) is chief co-patron of  SB 1165, a bill to abolish the death penalty in Virginia. Virginia has a long and sordid history of killing people. The first execution the U.S. occurred in Virginia in 1608. Since then, almost 1400 people have been executed in Virginia – more than any other state. This taking of human life should end. The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Commonwealth’s largest faith-based justice advocacy organization and Virginians for Alternatives for Death Penalty have made abolition of the death penalty a top priority for the 2021 General Assembly.


Robert Poggenklass, Board Member, Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Ramin Fatehi – Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Norfolk

Hon. Steve Descano – Commonwealth’s Attorney Fairfax County, City of Fairfax

Hon. James Hingeley – Commonwealth’s Attorney Albemarle County



Legislative Fact Sheet
Racial Justice Fact Sheet


Roberta Oster

Communications Director
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Cell: (804) 615-4192




The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy advocates economic, racial, social, and environmental justice in Virginia’s policies and practices through education, prayer, and action. VICPP is a non-partisan coalition of more than 750 faith communities working for a more just society.