Tennessee brings back electric chair as lethal injection supplies dry up

Wyoming lawmakers mull a return to using firing squads

FILE - In this June 18, 2010, file photo, the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah, is shown. Used mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, it was also used in 1977 in Utah to execute Gary Gilmore, the first inmate put to death after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume, and two other Utah inmates. Some experts consider it the quickest and least painful method. (AP Photo/Trent Nelson, Pool, File)FILE - In this June 18, 2010, file photo, the firing squad execution chamber at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah, is shown. Used mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, it was also used in 1977 in Utah to execute Gary Gilmore, the first inmate put to death after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume, and two other Utah inmates. Some experts consider it the quickest and least painful method. (AP Photo/Trent Nelson, Pool, File)
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law that brings back the electric chair for inmates facing death sentences, while Wyoming lawmakers are mulling whether to use a firing squad — all in response to the shortage of drugs used to make lethal injections for prisoners.

Lawmakers in Tennessee passed the bill in April by a massive margin: The Senate voted 23-3 and the House, 68-13, CBS reported.


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Tennessee is the first state to legislatively bring back the electric chair in a manner that doesn’t give inmates an option, said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“There are states that allow inmates to choose, but it is a very different matter for a state to impose a method like electrocution,” he said. “No other state has gone so far.”

In Wyoming, a legislative committee is now drafting a bill that would authorize the use of firing squares to carry out death sentences.

A Utah lawmaker said he also is preparing a firing-squad bill in his state’s next legislative session in January.

The moves follow the botched lethal injection execution last month in Oklahoma of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett, 38, who was sentenced to death for shooting and burning alive 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman.

Lockett began groaning, clenching his teeth and writhed for about 15 minutes before officials halted the execution. He died from a heart attack about 43 minutes later.


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