VIRGINIA (USA): ELECTRIC CHAIR BILL DIES ON TIE VOTE IN SENATE COMMITTEE
January 24, 2014: If anyone knows what executing a person by electrocution does to the body, it's Jerry Givens. As Virginia's executioner for years, he put 62 people to death, 25 in the electric chair. He fined-tuned his process to avoid catching the body on fire during the execution after an incident in Florida, he said. "You're gonna have burning ... using that much electricity on a body," Givens told the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee Friday morning, speaking out against a bill that would let the state execute death row inmates by electric chair if lethal injection drugs aren't available.
Givens became an opponent of the death penalty after his time as executioner. But to bill sponsor Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson, "a few burns" suffered by a convicted murderer pale in comparison to what the victims suffered. "Remember, there's a victim also," Carrico said, telling the committee he had a cousin who was murdered, along with her husband, 4-year-old daughter and unborn child. "No one cares how they feel. ... They don't have a choice how they're executed.
A similar bill passed easily through the House of Delegates this week. It's a relatively simple bill - in instances where lethal injection drugs aren't available, the state's Department of Corrections may choose to carry out an execution by using the electric chair.
Lethal injection drugs have become more difficult for states to get in recent years, and Virginia's supply is currently expired. Currently death row inmates can choose their method of execution - lethal injection or the electric chair. 1 chose the electric chair last year. Debate has turned more on whether death by electric chair is humane.
Opponents of the House bill spoke against it on those grounds, saying that it's akin to torturing someone to death. Supporters say that the state needs a way to carry out court-ordered executions in the absence of the lethal injection drugs. Sen. Barbara Favola, who voted against Carrico's bill, said she didn‚Äôt understand why the state can't figure out how to work around the lack of specific drugs. "This is 2014 and it does not seem that complicated an approach," she said. Carrico's bill failed to pass on a tied vote, with 1 Republican senator not present.
Carrico told reporters there will be another chance when the House bill comes to the Senate. (Source: Free Lance-Star, 24/01/2014)