[JURIST] The Virginia General Assembly on Friday approved a bill [HB 815 materials] that will allow for the implementation of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs are not readily available. Virginia has faced issues [WP report] with obtaining lethal injection drugs as some pharmaceutical companies have declined to supply the necessary materials. According to the new bill, the Virginia Department of Corrections must make "reasonable efforts" to obtain lethal injection materials before utilizing the electric chair. The bill will now be sent to Governor Terry McAuliffe [official website] desk to be signed or vetoed. Currently, Virgina has seven inmates on death row.
Capital punishment [JURIST op-ed] remains a controversial issue in the US and worldwide. In February the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] rejected [opinion, PDF] a Georgia death row inmate's legal challenge [JURIST report] to the death penalty. In January Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood [official website] stated that he plans to ask lawmakers to approve the firing squad, electrocution or nitrogen gas as alternate methods of execution [press release] if the state prohibits lethal injection [JURIST report]. The US Supreme Court in January ruled [JURIST report] in Kansas v. Carr [opinion, PDF] that a jury in a death penalty case does not need to be advised that mitigating factors, which can lessen the severity of a criminal act, do not need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt like aggravating factors.