Editor: On behalf of the Virginia Justice and Witness Action Network (of the Central Atlantic Conference, United Church of Christ), we write to urge support for legislation to abolish the death penalty in Virginia.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to end this immoral and flawed criminal-justice penalty.

The reasons to abolish the death penalty are myriad:

• Research shows that a person is more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death when the murder victim is white versus when the victim is black.

• The death penalty is expensive. Life in prison protects the public from dangerous criminals at a significantly lower cost.

• The death penalty has no deterrent value. There is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters homicide.

• And perhaps most persuasive, nationwide since 1976, 172 persons convicted and sentenced to death have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. One person wrongly executed is one too many.

As people of faith, we believe in human dignity and redemption. And we believe we must end this inhumane practice.

Rev. Kristen McBrayer, Gregory Forbes, Laurie Forbes, Elisa Galindo, Antonio Peralta, Britt Weaver, Garvey Weaver, Vienna


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