The Bulletin

With death penalty repealed, two once-condemned men moved off Virginia’s death row

By: - July 2, 2021 1:05 pm

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, left, looks over the electric chair in the death chamber at Greensville Correctional Center with Operations Director, George Hinkle, center, and Warden Larry Edmonds, right, prior to signing a bill abolishing the penalty in Jarratt, Va., Wednesday, March 24, 2021. One hundred and two executions were performed at the since the early 1990’s. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

With the death penalty formally abolished in Virginia as of this week, death row is now officially vacant, according to prison officials.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney said the two remaining prisoners facing death sentences were moved off death row after the legislation was signed earlier this year.

For decades, condemned prisoners have been held in a special ward at Sussex I State Prison until a few days before they were scheduled to die, at which point they were transferred to the building that housed the execution chamber at Greensville Correctional Center.

Kinney said the two men have been transferred to other high-security facilities. Thomas Porter, who murdered a police officer who attempted to stop and question him, was transferred to Red Onion State Prison and Anthony Juniper, who murdered two adults and two children, was transferred to Wallens Ridge State Prison. Both facilities are located in Southwest Virginia.

Kinney did not respond to questions about whether the conditions of their confinement will change as a result of the move. The use of solitary confinement on death row has faced nationwide criticism, but similar complaints about the use of isolation have been levied by Virginia prisoners in high security facilities like Red Onion.

Under the legislation abolishing the death penalty, they will serve life sentences with no possibility of parole.

Lawyers who represent Juniper and Porter did not respond to requests for comment.

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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.