Facts About Virginia's Death Row

Final hours structured for inmates

Virginia's Death Row is the home of the commonwealth's worst criminals who await their fate either by electrocution or by lethal injection.

Death Row is located at Sussex I State Prison in Waverly, Va., and is currently home to 15 male prisoners. The lone female who is on Virginia's Death Row is housed at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. The oldest person on Virginia's Death Row is 59; the youngest is 26. The average age is 36. They have been on Death Row for an average of five years. The average time spent on Death Row since 1991 has been 7.1 years.

Although the electric chair is still an option, D.C.-area sniper John Allen Muhammad was to die by lethal injection, which became an option in the state in 1995 and is the state's method of choice if the inmate does not make one.

Prior to the scheduled execution, the inmate is moved from Sussex I State Prison to Greensville Correctional Center, where the inmate is housed in one of three cells adjacent to the Death Chamber. From the Virginia Department of Corrections:

The inmate is allowed contact visits with attorneys and non-contact visits with immediate family members, clergy and spiritual advisors during specified hours.

On the day of execution, the inmate may have one contact visit with immediate family. Attorneys, clergy and spiritual advisors are allowed to visit up until the time of execution.

For the last meal, the inmate may select any meal, or combination of items, from the institution’s 28-day cycle menu. The meal must be completed no later than four hours prior to the execution. The inmate is also allowed to shower approximately two hours prior to the execution.

A member of the clergy may accompany the inmate to the Death Chamber where he may offer words of comfort or prayer.

The inmate is escorted into the chamber just prior to the appointed hour. The curtains separating the witness room and the execution chamber remain open until the inmate is restrained to the table. Once the inmate is restrained, the curtains are closed and remain closed until the IV lines have been established, normally, one in each arm. The curtains are reopened and the director gives the order to carry out the sentence of the court.

There have been 75 lethal injections in the state since 1995. All executions are performed at 9 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va.

The last inmate to be executed by the electric chair was Brandon Wayne Hedrick in 2006.

There have been 339 executions in Virginia since the first electrocution in 1908. There have been 103 executions in the state since capital punishment was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976.

In 1994, Gov. George Allen signed an order to allow execution to be viewed by victim’s family members.

The next scheduled execution is that of Larry Bill Elliott, who was convicted of murdering Dana Thrall and Robert Finch in March 2003. That execution is set for Nov. 17.

Only one woman has been executed in Virginia -- 17-year-old Virginia Christian was electrocuted in 1912.

The youngest person to be executed was Percey Ellis, 16, in 1916. The oldest person to be executed was Joe Lee, 68, in 1916.

The busiest execution day in Virginia? That would be Feb. 2, 1951, when five inmates were executed. The busiest year? 1909, when 17 executions were carried out.

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