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Earlier this year, Virginia made headlines when it became the latest state to abolish the death penalty. Sabrina Butler-Smith is the first woman to be exonerated from death row. She says she’s living, breathing proof of why the capital punishment should be a thing of the past.
Witnessing an Execution
Deirdre Enright (University of Virginia)
Deirdre Enright is probably best known for her work as the founding director of the Innocence Project, or for being featured on the first season of the hit podcast, Serial. But before all that, she spent decades as a capital defense lawyer. She says she attended one of her clients’ executions and it changed her life forever.
Mary Atwell (Radford University)
Since 1976, 17 women have been executed in the United States. Mary Atwell says women facing the death penalty are often subjected to harsher sentencing due to gender bias within the criminal justice system.
The Martinsville 7
Peter Wallenstein (Virginia Tech)
In 1951, seven Black men from Martinsville, Virginia were executed for allegedly raping a white woman. Two months ago, Virginia governor Ralph Northam issued pardons to each of the Martinsville 7. Peter Wallenstein says the Martinsville 7 case brings into sharp focus the racial disparities of capital punishment in Virginia.
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