Tennessee Considers Using Electric Chair as Alternative to Lethal Injection
Capital punishment has been a contentious debate in the country for weeks -- executions have been put on hold until state governments find a more acceptable way to execute prisoners. However, Tennessee seems to have found a solution: the electric chair.
The issue arose in the beginning of May when Oklahoma attempted to end an execution. According to CNN, the state was executing convicted rapist and murderer Clayton Lockett via lethal injection. However, the prisoner's intended peaceful execution turned into a cruel and unusual one when he began convulsing in front of journalists, medical and prison staff.
Subsequently, the media has restarted the national debate about capital punishment. While the drugs used have come into question, the courts have suspended pending executions until a suitable drug has been found. According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court intervened in the case of a Missouri prisoner set to be executed by the drugs. Nonetheless, Tennessee will not be hindered by such technicalities like a painful execution.
Despite what the U.S. Constitution says about capital punishment, the southern state passed a law on Thursday bringing back the electric chair. The Washington Post reports that the law passed through the state's legislature and was subsequently signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
The antique will be dusted off and put to use only when drugs are not available for legal injection. According to the Post, there has been a shortage of drugs because of a European-led boycott to supply drugs for execution. To work around the problem, Tennessee has brought back the electric chair.
"There are states that allow inmates to choose, but it is a very different matter for a state to impose a method like electrocution," said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, to the Washington Post. "No other state has gone so far."
States with capital punishment have been scrambling to find alternatives with firing squads being the most popular. Slate has also offered an alternative, nitrogen gas, to asphyxiate the prisoner in a more humane way. On the other hand, using the electric chair would open executions to a barrage of lawsuits.
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