Whittney Evans

KCPW reporter Whittney Evans shares Utah news stories with Utah Public Radio. Whittney holds a degree in communication with an emphasis in print journalism from Morehead State University in Kentucky.

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Updated September 8, 2021 at 9:17 AM ET

On Wednesday, the state of Virginia removed the 12-ton statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee more than 130 years after it was installed in Richmond.

Despite its massive size, it was lifted from its pedestal in one piece and is headed for storage. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, was there as the statue came down and appeared pleased by its removal. A crowd also chanted and cheered as the statue of Lee — atop a horse — was lifted into the air by a crane.

On Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law abolishing the death penalty in the state after the Democratic-controlled legislature passed the measure late last month.

"It is the moral thing to do to end the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Virginia," said the governor.

Northam, a Democrat, held the ceremonial bill signing at the Greensville Correctional Center just outside Jarratt, Va., where the state houses its execution chamber.

The Virginia House and Senate have both approved landmark legislation to abolish the death penalty in the commonwealth and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam says he plans to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk.

Before that happens, lawmakers still have to work out a disagreement about whether people sentenced to life in prison instead of death could be eligible for parole.

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Lawmakers in Virginia will consider dozens of proposals this week to reform criminal justice and policing. The legislature is back in the capital Tuesday for a special legislative session that could last weeks. They'll try to ban chokeholds, like the one police used in Minneapolis on George Floyd and no-knock warrants, like the one used in Louisville, Ky., when police killed Breonna Taylor.

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After a calamitous few weeks, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is heading out on what he's calling a reconciliation tour. He is holding tight on to his office despite widespread calls to resign after a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page surfaced and he admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s. But has vowed to focus the rest of his term on racial inequality while also examining his own white privilege. The tour starts Thursday, Feb.

The state of Utah will write new standards for safety and operations at prisons and county jails — and those standards will now be made available to the public. The announcement came Friday after media and civil rights groups challenged their confidentiality.

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A new charter school in Utah wants to equip students in kindergarten through ninth grade with a solid foundation in business.

Students' daily lessons are peppered with concepts like sales and marketing, finance and entrepreneurship, says first-grade teacher Tammy Hill. "And that plays into leadership and improved math skills. And finance plays into every part of their lives."