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West Virginia and the death penalty

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Many states currently allow for a sentence of death for certain crimes, most notably murder. The federal government also practices the death penalty. However, each state has the right to decide if it will allow this punishment. According to the West Virginia Legislature, the state does not have a death penalty.

No crimes carry this as an option for punishment. In addition, any remaining death penalty offenses from before the abolishing of the punishment will not move forward. Instead, those convictions result in life in prison.

The end

It was in 1965, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, that the state ended the death penalty. This was not the first attempt to do so. Prior to 1965, there were multiple bills asking for the end of this punishment. West Virginia happened to pass the bill just before a case in the U.S. Supreme Court that temporarily ended the death penalty for the whole country.

Eventually, the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, but West Virginia did not. There have been attempts to do so, but they often do not make it far. The most recent attempt that made some movement towards reinstating the sentence was in 2011.

The history

The state widely used the death penalty before abolishing it. Since 1899, the West Virginia Penitentiary would carry out these sentences through hangings. The electric chair became the next method for carrying out death penalty sentences in 1951. The last execution occurred in the state in 1959. There was a total of 94 execution in the state from 1899 to 1959.