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Virginia Lawmakers Vote To Bring Back The Electric Chair

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 7/03/2016 Kim Bellware

Virginia lawmakers have approved a bill that would mandate the electric chair for executions if lethal injection drugs are unavailable. 

The proposal on Monday passed the Virginia Senate 22-17; it easily cleared the state House in February. 

Under HB815, capital inmates would be able to choose between lethal injection or the electric chair 15 days before their execution. The method would default to lethal injection if no choice is made, while electrocution would be the default should the drugs become unavailable.

State Sen. Scott Surovell (D) was among the lawmakers who opposed the bill, tweeting shortly after the vote: 

Lethal injection is the primary method in all 31 states that still have the death penalty, but an ongoing shortage of drugs has frustrated states' efforts to legally carry out executions. 

Convicted murderer Ricky Javon Gray was scheduled for execution March 16, but received a stay while the U.S. Supreme Court considers hearing his case.

The Virginia Department of Corrections said in January it did not have enough of a crucial drug used in the state's lethal injection protocol to carry out Gray's execution. 

Drugs used in both single-drug and three-drug lethal injection protocols have become increasingly hard to find in the wake of European manufacturers banning the drug's use for executions and domestic producers pulling their drugs from the market. 

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