No doubt Virginia and Texas will be the last two states to continue with the death penalty until, inevitably, evolving standards of decency lead the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
But fear of loss has motivated the Virginia General Assembly to amend a law that allows prisoners facing execution to choose between lethal injection and the electric chair so that the electric chair is used if drugs for lethal injection are not available.
It’s barbaric, and execution debacles with electrocution and unproven drugs for lethal injection could speed overall rejection of the death penalty.
Most representatives from our area voted against, but in the House of Delegates, which voted 62-33 for the electric chair, Dave Albo, Jim LeMunyon and Vivian Watts voted in favor; Tim Hugo didn’t vote but registered that he intended to vote yes. (Voting no were Jennifer Boysko, David Bulova, Eileen Filler-Corn, Charniele Herring, Patrick Hope, Mark Keam, Paul Krizek, Mark Levine, Alfonso Lopez, Bob Marshall, Ken Plum, Mark Sickles, Marcus Simon and Rip Sullivan. Kathleen Murphy didn’t vote but registered that she intended to vote no.)
The Virginia Senate voted for the electric chair 22-17. From our area, only Dick Saslaw voted in favor of the electric chair. Voting no were George Barker, Adam Ebbin, Barbara Favola, Janet Howell, Dave Marden, Chap Petersen, Scott Surovell and Jennifer Wexton.
Residents of the 35th Senate District could rightfully question whether they are getting the representation they expect from Senator Saslaw (D), who without doubt will continue to be reelected until he chooses to retire. Saslaw voted for mandatory use of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs are not available, worked to kill legislation that would protect consumers from predatory lending and interest rates of more than 200 percent, and was chief patron of the notorious proffer bill, which, if signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe as passed, will result in localities losing the ability to temper costs of development and likely property tax increases.