Senate delays vote on electric chair bill

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows an electric chair which Virginia provides as an alternative to lethal injection. With lethal-injection drugs in short supply and new questions looming about their effectiveness, lawmakers in some death penalty states are considering bringing back relics of a more gruesome past including the electric chair. (AP Photo/Virginia Department of Corrections, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Virginia Senate is delaying a vote on a bill that would allow the state to mandate the use of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs aren’t available.

The Senate voted 21-19 Thursday to refer the bill to a committee, a move that could kill the bill’s chance of passage this session. The House of Delegates has already approved a similar bill.

Death row inmates can choose their method of execution. Supporters of the measure said the shortage of drugs needed for lethal injections make it necessary to give state prison officials the ability to use the electric chair when those drugs aren’t available in order to carry out death penalty sentences.

But several Democratic senators said further study was needed to verify that the bill was constitutional.

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