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Tennessee brings back the electric chair

Posted May 23, 2014 7:27 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill into law allowing the state to use electrocution in executions if lethal-injection drugs aren’t available.

The governor’s office did not comment on Haslam’s decision to sign the bill, passed by lawmakers in April, report the Associated Press, CNN and Reuters.

One issue is whether the bill can be applied retroactively to prisoners already on death row, AP says.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, also expects legal challenges contending the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment.

"There certainly have been some gruesome electrocutions in the past and that would weigh on courts' minds," Dieter told Reuters. He also says suits could be filed challenging any state determination that lethal-injection drugs aren’t available.

According to CNN, eight other states allow use of the electric chair, but only if the inmate chooses that execution method.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Bill to allow firing-squad executions is being drafted in state with just one death-row inmate"

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