VADP's ultimate goal is abolition of the death penalty in Virginia. In the interim, VADP seeks reforms in our existing criminal justice system that have been recommended by the the 2013 ABA Virginia Death Penalty Assessment Report. These reforms will make our system fairer and more transparent until we build the bipartisan support needed to abolish capital punishment.
VADP educates people in the Commonwealth about the major problems in our existing death penalty system: 1. InnocenceSince the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume, there have been 153 people exonerated from death row. These men and women were sentenced to death, but later vindicated before their execution was carried out. In the same time frame, there have been approximately 1,400 executions. That is a nearly an 11% rate of error, far too high for the ultimate punishment. 2. ArbitrarinessRace and geography play a huge role in the imposition of capital punishment. In Virginia a person is more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death when the victim is white vs. when the victim is black. In addition, the location of a homicide matters greatly. 65% of localities in Virginia have not had an execution since 1976. Just three of the 133 political jurisdictions account for 23% of all of the state's executions -- Prince William, Chesterfield & Virginia Beach. 3. CostNo cost study of the death penalty has ever been done in Virginia. Other states that have conducted studies have found that that a system with death as the maximum penalty costs significantly more than a system in which life imprisonment is the maximum penalty.
VADP mobilizes death penalty opponents at regional meetings in northern Virginia, Charlottesville, Richmond, Norfolk, and Roanoke. These gatherings take place twice a year, in the spring and fall. In addition, the VADP Executive Director is meeting with conservatives around the Commonwealth to discuss their views on capital punishment. Conservatives around the country are questioning the effectiveness of the death penalty as public policy. Mark Earley – a Republican Attorney General who oversaw 36 executions in Virginia – recently wrote about his conversion on the issue and declared his opposition to the death penalty. He shared his story with VADP supporters at our October 10, 2015 awards luncheon in Richmond.