Virginia Governor Pardons Martinsville Seven, Brings Total Number Of Pardons To 604
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Tuesday granted posthumous pardons for the Martinsville Seven, a group of young black men executed by the Commonwealth for allege rape of a white woman in 1951. The pardons do not address the guilt of the seven, but serves as recognition from the Commonwealth that these men were tried without adequate due process and received a racially biased death sentence not similarly applied to white defendants. From 1908 to 1951, all 45 prisoners executed for rape in Virginia were black men. In 1977 the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty for rape was cruel and unusual punishment. The pardons for the Martinsville Seven brings Northam’s total number of pardons to 604, more pardons than the previous nine governors combined.