WASHINGTON - Virginia on Wednesday became the first state in the U.S. South to abolish the death penalty.
Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill outlawing capital punishment in the state, saying it was "the moral thing to do."
Virginia is the 23rd U.S. state to abolish the death penalty.
Virginia has carried out more executions — nearly 1,400 — than any other state since its founding as a colony in the early 1600s.
Northam signed the bill ending the death penalty at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, which houses the state's execution chamber.
"Signing this new law is the right thing to do," Northam said. "It is the moral thing to do to end the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
"Virginia's history — we have much to be proud of — but not the history of capital punishment," he said.