Death Penalty

Some Tennessee death-row inmates opt for electric chair over lethal injections

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A Tennessee inmate scheduled for execution Thursday evening has chosen the electric chair over lethal injection.

Death-row inmate Nicholas Sutton will be the fifth inmate executed by electric chair since Tennessee resumed executions in 2018, report the New York Times and the Tennessean.

Inmates are declining lethal injections because they fear that they would feel intense pain that is masked by a paralytic drug used in the procedure, according to lawyers and inmate advocates.

Inmates can choose the electric chair in Tennessee and five other states. Those other states, however, have not used the electric chair in recent years.

The state honored requests and did not perform autopsies on the four inmates who died in the electric chair, including one who was observed with white smoke or steam coming from his head, according to the Tennesseean. Autopsies can help determine how quickly an inmate died and whether the electric chair worked properly.

Sutton was sentenced to death in 1986 for the stabbing death of another inmate in a conflict over a drug deal, the Associated Press reports. Sutton has been convicted of three other murders, including that of his grandmother.

A clemency petition argued that Sutton is a changed man. Sutton had comforted and even carried an inmate with untreated multiple sclerosis, according to the inmate’s mother. Corrections officials also offered support, saying Sutton had rescued them from an attack by other inmates.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, denied the clemency petition Wednesday.

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