VIRGINIA (USA): ELECTRIC CHAIR BILL ADVANCES IN THE HOUSE
January 17, 2014: The House's Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee passed House Bill 1052 that would allow forced electrocutions when lethal drugs aren't available.
The bill passed on a 12-6 vote. The vote was largely along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor.
The legislation could head to the House floor as soon as next week.
Republicans control the House, and the bill has a good chance of passing there.
The Senate is divided between Republicans and Democrats.
This bill, sponsored by Del. Jackson Miller, R-Manassas, would authorize electrocution if the head of the Virginia Department of Corrections certifies that lethal injection drugs aren't available. Those drugs are becoming scarce because companies that produce them don't want them used in executions. Virginia already has electrocution in its protocols, but lets the inmate choose between lethal injection and electrocution. The new law would give the Department of Correction the power to overrule the inmatesâ choice.
Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the change would "certainly precipitate vigorous court challenges." "This is not a minor step," he said. "This would be like adopting the electric chair as the main method of execution, which no other state has."
Dieter said there are related proposals in other states, though, borne of frustration over the lack of available drugs.
There's a proposal in Wyoming to use firing squads, one in Arkansas for the electric chair and one in California to use the gas chamber. None are close to becoming law, Dieter said. (Source: Daily Press, 17/01/2014)