Virginia shelves electric chair bill

Feb. 10, 2014 at 5:31 PM
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RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Virginia state Senate has opted to shelve a bill that would have reinstated the electric chair as the state's primary means for executing death row inmates.

The issue was brought up after state corrections officials said one of the three drugs used in state-ordered lethal injections, the anesthetic pentobarbital, is in short supply, the Washington Post reported Monday. Drug makers have protested their products being used in lethal injections and the German company that makes pentobarbital has refused to sell it to states for that purpose.

Several other states where the death penalty is legal have expressed similar problems procuring the drugs necessary to carry out lethal injections.

The Virginia state Senate's 20 Democrats and one Republican voted to send the electrocution legislation back to committee for further study, essentially shelving it until 2015, the Post said. Lawmakers who favor the death penalty said they preferred to explore more ways to procure pentobarbital than bring back the electric chair, an option almost no prisoners prefer.

None of the eight death row inmates in Virginia is currently scheduled to be put to death and lawmakers suggested Gov. Terry McAuliffe could put off sentencing until the matter is resolved.

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