Virginia

Virginia's House of Delegates Passes Bill Mandating Use of Electric Chair if Lethal Injection Can't Be Performed

European manufactures are making if difficult for states to buy the drugs used in lethal injections

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As lethal-injection drugs become harder to come by, states are turning to electrocution to carry out executions.

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Wednesday that would mandate electrocution be used to carry out a death sentence if a lethal injection cannot be performed. The vote is the latest and boldest maneuver in a steady stream of state moves aimed at addressing the growing shortage of death-penalty drugs.

States across the country are running out of the drugs they have relied on for decades to carry out death sentences, as European manufacturers are making it increasingly difficult to procure such chemicals if their use is to be a lethal injection. The European Union strongly opposes capital punishment and has pressured companies that knowingly export drugs to the U.S. for executions.

Virginia's move would make it the first state in the country to mandate death by electrocution. The measure, House Bill 1052, passed by a vote of 64-32. To become law, it would need to clear the state's Senate and get a signature from new Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a prospect that currently seems unlikely.