Virginia’s General Assembly [official website] voted Wednesday to keep secret the identities of suppliers of lethal injection drugs. The proposal [text, PDF] was supported by Governor Terry McAuliffe [official website], who stated that suppliers would only sell their products if their identities remained confidential. Otherwise, due to potential harassment, Virginia may have lost its supply of such drugs and the ability to perform capital punishment. Various religious groups and death penalty opponents argued [WP report] that it is not right for the state to take human life “under the veil of secrecy.” McAuliffe, who is against the death penalty, introduced the bill as an alternative [JURIST report] to using the electric chair in capital punishment. The bill was initially rejected [Richmond Dispatch report] by the House 47-51, but on a second try the bill passed 59-40. The Senate confirmed the bill 22-16
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 rejected [JURIST report] a Georgia death row inmate’s legal challenge to the death penalty. In January Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood stated that he plans to ask lawmakers to approve the firing squad, electrocution or nitrogen gas as alternate methods of execution 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.