Electric Chair Could Return to Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (WDSU) -- Louisiana's electric chair has been vacant since 1991. It now sits as a museum relic at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

But now State Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, could bring history back to life. He introduced a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would give the Department of Corrections secretary the option to use the electric chair instead of lethal injection.

"As long as we have the death penalty Louisiana, we have to have the ability to go through with the death penalty," said Lopinto.

The move mimics the actions of legislatures in other states across the country. Several lawmaking bodies have drawn up legislation to add alternatives to lethal injection.

Louisiana is one of a handful of states that has had problems finding lethal injection drugs. Pharmacies that supply the drugs are either succumbing to the pressure of anti-death penalty advocates or distancing themselves from the controversy, depending on who you ask.

"[Pharmaceutical companies ] don't want to be involved in taking a life," said Marjorie Esman, ACLU of Louisiana. "If you can't do it in a way that has been deemed less inhumane and so you're going back to a way that has been deemed more inhumane."

Lethal injection has been the sole method of capital punishment in Louisiana since going into law in 1991. Prior to lethal injection, Louisiana used an electric chair dating back to when capital punishment resumed in the United States in 1976.

The legislative session begins Mar. 10. If the bill passes, the state could resume using the electrical chair on Aug. 1.

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