House approves Governor's proposal on secrecy of lethal injection drugs

Published: Apr. 20, 2016 at 10:40 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 30, 2016 at 10:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After two attempts by the Virginia House of Delegates, lawmakers accepted Governor Terry McAuliffe's proposal to shield the identities of pharmacies that provide lethal injection drugs for executions.

House Bill 815 was approved on a vote of 59 yeas and 40 nays minutes after McAuliffe's recommendations to the bill were rejected in an earlier House vote.

Last week, McAuliffe proposed several changes to the bill that would have allowed the state to force death row inmates to die in the state's electric chair when lethal injection drugs were not available.

At that time, McAuliffe said he would veto the bill if lawmakers rejected his proposals. Now, private contractors could produce lethal injection drugs while protecting their identity.

"Our citizens share my concerns and do not wish to be forced into using this terrible form of punishment," the Governor said on Twitter during his recommendation announcement.

Religious leaders have criticized the bill in the past, saying the shielding of suppliers from public scrutiny could increase the risk of botched executions.

"The death penalty is unjust, and the electric chair and lethal injection are barbaric," said Rev. Max Blalock of William & Mary Wesley Foundation in a post from Faith in Public Life.

"We believe in justice and in life and in truly offering as the Commonwealth common sense ways of improving our criminal justice system," Blalock added.

McAuliffe believes the bill's amendments, "deliver a valid path forward to continue VA's capital punishment policy"

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