Legislative Persistence and Character

Del. Frank Hargrove, Sr.

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Twenty years ago, a senior member of the House of Delegates introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty. The introduction of such legislation was unusual in itself; even more unusual was the patron: Frank Hargrove, a Republican delegate from Hanover County.

Hargrove, who had been in the General Assembly for 18 years by that time, seemed an unlikely candidate to introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty. He was a staunch conservative and had even introduced a bill years earlier to bring back public hangings. However, regarding his prior beliefs about the death penalty, he told a reporter, “My stand was one of significant uncertainty. My own logic told me it wasn’t right, but it seemed to be what the general public wanted in terms of dealing with these criminals. But [my stand] was very shaky.” He explained that his bill on public hangings was motivated by his feeling that the public had become too comfortable with executions. 

Every legislative session from 2001 until he retired after the 2009 session, he introduced the bill. It never got out of committee. In fact, there was only one year in which his bill received even one vote in favor of it in the committee. Beginning with the 2006 Session, there was no recorded committee vote; the record only says “Left in committee.” I suspect that his colleagues were trying to save him the embarrassment of unanimous “no” votes in the committee to kill the bill.

Despite the lack of any possibility of getting the bill out of committee, much less of passing it, Hargrove persisted. It says something about a legislator’s character that he would continue to push for an issue that he believes in on principle, despite its unpopularity with the rest of his colleagues and probably his constituents.

Frank Hargrove will be 93 years old this year. He must have smiled at the announcement by the Governor that he will be advocating repeal of the death penalty.

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31 responses to “Legislative Persistence and Character

  1. Good post.

  2. Why shouldn’t those who take life have theirs taken?
    If someone has no pity on anothers’ life, why should someone have pity on them?
    Do you think victims’ lives are not worth it?
    What areas are they going to be released in? Do you think they’d want gun control and then have murderers living in their neighborhood?

  3. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    “My stand was one of significant uncertainty. My own logic told me it wasn’t right, but it seemed to be what the general public wanted in terms of dealing with these criminals. But [my stand] was very shaky.”

    I admire Mr. Hargrove’s personal courage to do what he thought was right despite popular views at the time.

    When will today’s Democrats take a similar courageous stand on the issue of abortion? Surely Mr. Hargrove’s logic applies to this issue.

    16,000 abortions in 2018. 210,356 abortions since 2009. This carries on Old Virginia.

    No articles, no commotion, note even one sad lonely note to play.

  4. My immediate response to the death penalty– no bueno.
    But, there are some flat out mad dog killers out there who quite literally cannot be allowed within 10 feet of another human. The alternative of a life sentence, under the conditions necessary to provide safety to other prisoners and guards, is far less humane than just killing them.
    What to do, what to do?
    Do you execute them, or house them under conditions, so bereft of human contact, that it slowly turns them into the last image you have of Charlie Manson?

    • opposed to death penalty per se but more opposed to housing prisoners in inhumane conditions – even those sentenced to lesser terms than death and especially those that we will release at some point back into society.

      Don’t care for abortion, opposed to most except for some cases.

      We could use more posts like Dick does and a few less that spew vitriol and demonize entire groups of people and target individuals.

      • Sadly, the readership stats go the other way….now BR takes ads. Clicks will count even more….

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          I just bought my first product from a Bacon’s Rebellion advertisement. A very nicely priced cylinder and piston set from J Bugs to go in a scratch built VW motor for the Bug. If I am the first commenter to purchase a BR advertised product do I get a trophy?

          • maybe a guest column? 😉

          • Hey, man, the democrats are in power. EVERYBODY gets a trophy!


          • Beginning the post-pandemic exuberant spending a bit early, are we?

            And Wayne. Now’s the time to be looking at the sectors favored by Democrat spending history. They both pick winners and losers. The secret is knowing when to switch horses.

          • “And Wayne. Now’s the time to be looking at the sectors favored by Democrat spending history. They both pick winners and losers.”

            So, U.S. Constitution toilet paper futures?

            Never mind, those are ALWAYS a strong buy.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            I want to be in the yellow comment box for a day. That would make a nice trophy.

        • Certaintly a modest request that surely Haner will fullfill!

  5. Shame on me for forgetting Frank when I mentioned Clint Miller yesterday. This is an issue where legislators, D and R, sensed strong public support for the ultimate penalty, even as it became less and less common. It has always been cruel and now is truly unusual. Manson is a good case study, as were Richmond’s infamous Briley brothers (who escaped, remember.) But I think the cost-benefit has tipped against this and perhaps public attitudes, as well. This should quickly be agreed to and then debate should focus on the less easy parts of the Left’s agenda: felon voting, no cash bail, no minimum mandatory sentences, revolving door parole. They got quite a bit done already. As with the Allen Administration efforts a generation ago, we can now watch the next few years and see who is right about the outcome. Gun sales indicate a lack of public confidence….

  6. Assuming we can outlaw the death penalty for murderers, can we do something about it being carried out at traffic stops…?

  7. The day OJ Simpson was found “not guilty” was the day I became opposed to the death penalty. What a circus that trial was. Our criminal justice system needs a major overhaul. Overcharging to get plea deals, the refusal of Commonwealth’s Attorneys to prosecute laws they disagree with, etc. No way I can support that broken system killing anybody. Beyond that, it’s cheaper to keep a prisoner in jail for life then it is to kill them. Of course, if Northam and the Nutcakes can’t manage to make life mean life then there are other considerations.

  8. Baconator with extra cheese

    I have to say Kim is hot though.

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