Fordham Law


Virginia to Bring Back Electric Chair as Default Execution Method

Deborah Denno in International Business Times, February 06, 2014

Media Source

Virginia to Bring Back Electric Chair as Default Execution Method
 
By Hannah Osborne
 
Virginia lawmakers are set to vote on bringing back the electric chair as the primary method of execution across the American state.
 
Drugs manufacturers have over recent years started banning US state governments from using their drugs for lethal injections.
 
This has led to a shortage in the supply of drugs needed to execute prisoners on death row.
 
In order to solve this problem, Virginia officials are to vote on bringing back the electric chair, the archaic method that went into decline from the 1980s following a series of botched executions.
 
According to deathpenaltyinfo.org, Virginia currently has 10 prisoners awaiting execution. Inmates are allowed to choose their method of execution and last year, Robert Charles Gleason opted for the electric chair – the only execution in the state in 2013.
 
"I'm going to vote against it, but I suspect it's going to pass."
 
Senator A Donald McEachin
 
Should the state vote to make electrocution the default method of execution, it will become the first and only state that could force a prisoner to be killed in this way, the Washington Post reports. A mandatory electrocution has not taken place since 2002.
 
States across the US are currently struggling to get the drugs required for the lethal injection – which is made up of three drugs and has been used since 1976.
 
Other states have looked to use a larger dose of sedative, but the same issues with manufacturers are coming up. An untested formula recently used led to one man in Ohio taking 25 minutes to die.
 
Virginia is currently one of just eight states that still uses the electric chair. Experts and lawmakers are expecting the vote to go through.
 
Senator A Donald McEachin told the Post: "I'm going to vote against it, but I suspect it's going to pass."
 
Commenting on the issue, law professor Deborah W Denno said a return to electrocution is not a good option: "If electrocution was such a humane method of execution, they would never have switched to lethal injection. No state would have."