As the drugs used for lethal injection becomes scarcer and scarcer with the advent of European-led boycotts of drug sales for that purpose, Tennessee’s governor Bill Haslam signed legislation in that state to bring back executions via the electric chair.
The electric chair measure, sponsored by State Sen. Ken Yager, that sailed through both the Tennessee Senate and House in April with a Senate vote of 23-3, and House to vote of 68-13, was signed into law on Thursday evening.
Thursday’s signing makes Tennessee the first state to enact legislation to reintroduce the electric chair without giving prisoners an option.
The use of electrocution as a form of execution has majority support among the residents in Tennessee. In a poll conducted by Vanderbilt University, a tally of 56% of registered voters in Tennessee approves the use of the electric chair as a form of execution. Only 37% disagreed.
While the electric chair may be a viable form of execution for prisoners convicted from this day forward, this form of execution may be unconstitutional for the 74 prisoners currently on death row in Tennessee, as lawmakers cannot make that change retroactively according to legal experts.
The reintroduction of the electric chair by the state of Tennessee comes on the heels of the botched execution of Clayton Darrell Lockett at the Oklahoma State penitentiary on April 29 that resulted in him having a heart attack death after being administered an untested cocktail of drugs that had never been utilized before in an execution. Lockett convulsed at the end after writhing for 43 min. in apparent pain after he was sedated before expiring from heart failure.
The botched execution spurred Oklahoma to grant a stay of execution for Charles Frederick Warner who was scheduled to be executed two hours after Lockett. The governor of that state also requested a review of the execution process.
Tennessee’s next execution is scheduled for October. The Tennessee Department of Corrections states that they are confident that they will be able to secure the drugs needed.