HOLMBERG: Lawmakers want to bring back electrocutions – why not make them public?

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Drug manufacturers have so many goodies to sell us, about half the commercials on TV are for one miracle drug or another to keep us feeling frisky.

But there’s a shortage of the drugs used to execute the worst criminals in the land.

So Virginia legislators want to bring in some back up – Ol’ Sparky . . . the electric chair to the rescue!

The House of Delegates easily passed a bill that would flip the switch if those drugs aren’t available. A Senate version of the bill is in committee.

Since 1995, death row inmates have had the choice – to “ride the lightning” or a chemical glide to oblivion.

Of the 85 inmates executed since then, only seven of them chose the chair, including the guy whose last words were “kiss my ass” in Gaelic.

Many of those executed also choose to have a sedative before they enter the death chamber. That’s why many of them look so calm and distant. (I’ve often thought that shot of Valium is for us instead of them. It’s kind of upsetting to see someone fighting their own death.)

According to published reports, European manufacturers won’t sell  chemicals for use in executions, and the big U.S. manufacturer halted production in 2011. (Couldn’t they bring in Heisenberg from “Breaking Bad” to sort this out?)

The Death Penalty Information Center reports that Virginia is just one of four states, including Alabama, Florida and South Carolina, that still uses the electric chair upon inmate request.

That’s not surprising. We’ve executed about 1,400 people here in the Old Dominion since the Jamestown days. The 'killingest' state in the Union.

We did a lot of hangings until electricity – and the electric chair – arrived in 1908.

But there were horror stories, inmates needing extra jolts, all kind of jerking and smoking and bleeding going on.

So we began offering inmates lethal injection in 1995. It’s seen as a kinder, gentler way of killing someone.

Me, I’ve always believed we switched away from electrocutions because lethal injections  made us feel better,  made us feel more humane. We’re just gently putting them to sleep, like cats or dogs. A medical procedure.

I don’t mind bringing back the electric chair at all, if we’ve got the guts to roll like that.

If we’re going to have state-sanctioned executions, I think they should be pretty shocking, so to speak. And public.

The state is doing the killing for us, in our names. So maybe even public hangings. Those worked pretty well, except for all that kicking and jerking and swinging.

Yes, executions are serious business. We should feel them, see them, maybe even smell them. The lights should dim so we can think about what we’ve just done.

That’s my take, please leave yours here.


  • airjackie

    A lot of States are bringing back the old use of how people were killed in our history. The electric chair and next hanging maybe even medieval coffin used in the South. I was 7 years old and traveling to North Carolina on the train. A man hanging from a tree with bugs/flies eating his skin as families having a picnic were watching the site. We even executed a 14 year old child who was to small for the chair but he suffered a long time before he died. We now feel Rape is Gods blessings and other sick ideas. When a society doesn’t value human life and has no religious this is what happens.

    • janise jackson

      Hey libtard,tell us about your valuing of life.55 million babies slaughtered since Roe vs Wade.

  • Ard Vaark

    Nah, bring back the rope … and make the hanging public, in Schockoe Bottom for example in the new baseball stadium.

  • Allan from Ashland

    Virginia has a long and dark history with the death penalty. The first execution in the New World took place in Virginia in 1608 when Captain George Kendall was executed in Jamestown for spying. Throughout its history as a colony and a state, Virginia has executed more than 1300 people, more than any other state. Virginia has executed more women and the youngest children of any state. Since the resumption of capital punishment in the late 1970s following a de facto moratorium imposed by the courts, Virginia has executed 109 people, second only to Texas during that time. The average time between conviction and execution in Virginia is less than eight years, by far the shortest in the nation. Since the 1970s, 141 persons convicted and sentenced to death in the United States have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence; the 141 spent an average of 10 years on death row. Many of these victims of a faulty justice system would have been executed before evidence of their innocence came to light if they had been convicted in Virginia. Virginia has executed 110 people since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

    There was one execution in Virginia in 2013. This is roughly the same number of times that Holmberg bathed and was arrested for a DUI that year.

  • Robo

    The death penalty has no place in a civil society. Check the list of countries that allow it… great group.
    I guess there are some posters that feel the need to bring up Mr. Holmbergs personal business which really is inappropriate here.

  • Friend of Bill W

    By all means. Let’s become more and more like Sharia ruled areas of Muslim countries. That’s who we want to imitate.

  • James

    Bring back hangings. Build a gallows on Capitol Square. Have public hangings once a month. Using the same rope over and over will save a lot of money. Sell vendor spaces and t-shirts to the crowds and do away with the state sales tax. Also, eight years is still far too long. All appeals for the death penalty should be completed in 12 months.

  • Bob Bishop

    Why should the inmates get the choice anyway. Did the people they killed have a choice of how they were going to die, or how long they would suffer? I think not.

  • issatrue

    Great Deterrent at Low Costs to Tax Payers!
    Tax Payers should NOT be forced to be the actual Nannies of the Nanny Government’s support of all entitlements to all convicted felons.
    Public Stocks may make the criminals think twice. Those that have to hide in the dark to commit their crimes against others would be exposed to the daylight of the truth for all to see them accurately.

  • issatrue

    Not into coddling, appeasing, placating and furnishing felons with their
    Party rights they relinquished when incarcerated because they
    broke the laws and sentenced as Guilty.

  • issatrue

    Legal, law-abiding, citizen, tax payers didn’t Break the Laws.
    Why should they have to pay extraordinary costs to support
    appease those that do.

  • Clutch Martin

    Hanging on the E-Span channel (Execution channel). It’s public, there is a lesson in there somewhere and it’s cost effective.

  • Clutch Martin

    If someone murders victims in public (ex. robbing a bank), with witnesses, video etc… the trial should be speedy and the execution shouldn’t linger for years… a few days perhaps.

  • Dustin Cavanaugh

    If someone is a true criminal they will suffer more with life in prison and it’s cheaper. This is not an opinion it is a fact before I hear any arguments this is not up for debate. Inmates torture those who deserve it. One of the biggest problems with the death penalty involves the fact that that people have been wrongly executed. Another fact. People have wrongly imprisoned their whole lives. The death penalty should be a choice not forced upon anyone.

  • steve

    The drug is not running out. The UK company refuses to sell it to us for executing people. I think death is the easy way out. And they wait about 15 years. I think they should have to be alive and suffer in prison

Comments are closed.