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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Virginia legislature approves bill reimplimenting electric chair

The Virginia General Assembly on Friday approved a bill [HB 815 materials] that will allow for the implementation of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs are not readily available. 

Virginia has faced issues with obtaining lethal injection drugs as some pharmaceutical companies have declined to supply the necessary materials. 

According to the new bill, the Virginia Department of Corrections must make "reasonable efforts" to obtain lethal injection materials before utilizing the electric chair. 

The bill will now be sent to Governor Terry McAuliffe desk to be signed or vetoed. 

Currently, Virgina has 7 inmates on death row.

Capital punishment remains a controversial issue in the US and worldwide. 

In February the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected 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. 

The US Supreme Court in January ruled in Kansas v. Carr 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.

Source: The Jurist, March 14, 2016

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