death penalty

Toforest Johnson was 25 years old when he was sentenced to death in 1998 for the killing of a sheriff's deputy outside Birmingham, Ala. His oldest daughter, Shanaye Poole, now 29, remembers being in the courtroom.

"I just wanted to talk to him. He looked so handsome. He had a suit on. And of course, I didn't really know what was going on. I may have been 4 or 5 years old at the time," she says. "I saw him walk away, and that was the last day of his freedom."

On Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law abolishing the death penalty in the state after the Democratic-controlled legislature passed the measure late last month.

"It is the moral thing to do to end the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia," said the governor.

Northam, a Democrat, held the ceremonial bill signing at the Greensville Correctional Center just outside Jarratt, Va., where the state houses its execution chamber.

okoffender.doc.ok.gov

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to give the facts surrounding a death row prisoners’ conviction a closer look. If the board finds in Julius Jones’ favor it will recommend Gov. Kevin Stitt commute his death sentence.

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okoffender.doc.ok.gov

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater objected to a potential commutation for death row prisoner Julius Jones in a letter earlier this week. This comes as the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board will consider Monday whether to give Jones a commutation hearing.

Jamie Glisson

Focus: Black Oklahoma is a one-hour news and public affairs program on various topics relevant to Oklahomans across the Black diaspora that airs on KOSU monthly. Listen to February's episode now.

The Virginia House and Senate have both approved landmark legislation to abolish the death penalty in the commonwealth and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam says he plans to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk.

Before that happens, lawmakers still have to work out a disagreement about whether people sentenced to life in prison instead of death could be eligible for parole.

The U.S. government has executed Dustin Higgs, the last prisoner to be executed during the Trump administration, and the 13th in the span of six months.

The Supreme Court declined to stop the execution, although some justices dissented, noting that before the first of the 13, it had been 17 years since a federal execution had been carried out.

On Thursday night, the federal government executed a drug trafficker responsible for seven murders in 1992, despite his attorneys having claimed moving forward with the execution would be "cruel and usual punishment" because of his recent COVID-19 infection.

Corey Johnson, 52, was executed at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana and pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. He is the 12th person to be executed by the government since July, after the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17 year hiatus.

Updated at 2:14 a.m. ET Wednesday

Editor's note: This story includes information that may be upsetting to some readers.

Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, died by lethal injection early Wednesday after the Supreme Court vacated several lower-court rulings, clearing the way for her to become the first female prisoner to be put to death by the U.S. government since 1953.

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