Tennessee Passes Controversial Electric Chair Bill For Death Row Inmates


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The state of Tennessee has taken its own measure to deal with the shortage of the lethal injection drugs. It’s bringing back the electric chair.

On Thursday, Rep. Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill that allows the state to use the electric chair on death row inmates on the off-chance that the state is unable to get the drugs necessary to carry out the legal injection process.  The drugs have become scarce due to a European-led boycott over the sale of the execution-used drugs.

The bill bringing the electric chair was passed in the House 68 to 13 and Senate 23-3 in April.  According to Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Richard Dieter, Tennessee is actually the first state to introduce such a law that doesn’t allow the prisoners the option to choose their fate. The organization opposes executions and keeps tabs on the matter.

Dieter said it’s entirely different matter when states allow the inmates to determine how they want to die, but that Tennessee is no longer allowing for this choice. He said he expects there to be challenges to the matter if the states goes through with electrocutions for two reasons:

The state has to show proof they were unable to attain the lethal injection drugs

Legal safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment

Ken Yager, a Republican state senator, was the bill’s key sponsor and said the bill was introduced due to the real possibility that the state could be unable to carry out executions because the drugs would be unavailable.

Tennessee’s move comes after the scrutiny of the lethal injection process where Oklahoma had a botched execution. Last month, 38-year-old Clayton Lockett, a convicted killer, started writhing, strained to lift his head from the pillow and was clenching his teeth, after he was supposedly thought to be unconscious by the first of the three-drug cocktail. Authorities stopped the execution but Lockett died 10 minutes later of an apparent heart attack. They later said the drugs were not to blame but a collapsed vein.

The electric chair was introduced in 1890 by New York State and was used throughout the 20th century in order to put to death hundreds of death row inmates. In eight states, the chair is still an option. And, since 1976, more than 150 inmates were executed by way of the method. While first thought to be humane, the method has seen numerous horrifying executions.

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Posted by on May 23 2014. Filed under Featured, New. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment for “Tennessee Passes Controversial Electric Chair Bill For Death Row Inmates”

  1. A little spell checking and proof reading please. “…Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill that allows the stat [sic] to use the electric chair on death row inmates…”, “Tennessee is actually the first start [sic] to introduce such a law…”, “The state has to show prove [sic] they were…”

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