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Electric Chair coming back in Tennessee

electric chairThere has been a nationwide scarcity on lethal injection drugs.  How have states responded?  Well, in Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill into law Thursday that will allow death row inmates to be executed by electrocution if the prisons are unable to obtain the drugs.

Much of the scarcity of the drugs used for lethal injections is as a result of many European countries boycotting drug sales for executions.

Tennessee lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the electric chair legislation in April, with the Senate voting 23-3 and the House 68-13 in favor of the bill.

Concerns about lethal injection also have risen at a time when Tennessee and many states — including Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas — obtain execution drugs in secret from unidentified compounding pharmacies. Death penalty opponents say the secrecy raises the risk of something going wrong.

Again I will make a plea here for humanity.  Hold on…I am not arguing that we should or should not have executions.  That argument is much too volatile, much too emotional, and I do not believe I could have any hope of a consensus on that issue – WHAT I AM ARGUING IS that if we as a society are going to punish the most serious of our offenders with the ultimate penalty, if we are going to take away their lives, we must retain our dignity and do it in as painless and humane manner.

I don’t argue for this because I do not appreciate that many of those sentenced to death have done heinous, horrible, torturous things to people.  I understand that, and to be honest, if one of my family members was the victim of some of the types of crimes they have committed I would want revenge too.  I would want them to suffer for what they did.

But we cannot accept that as a society.  We must resolve not for revenge, but for justice.  We must make up our minds that no matter what someone has done, it will lead to the degradation of our society to allow for our government to inflict torture and physical pain on someone.  It is barbaric.  It is gruesome, medieval even.

In the past we have seen what happens when people are electrocuted in old sparky.  Sometimes they don’t die immediately and they convulse, scream and spasm.

If we are going to execute people we must simply put them down like a violent animal.  Euthanize them.

I save the argument for whether we should keep the ultimate punishment for another day…I suggest you look into those freed by organizations such as the innocence project before you make up your mind where you stand.  Is it really ok if we execute a couple innocent people to make sure we kill the bad ones as well?

4 Responses so far.

  1. joyce says:

    I previously read the post on Oklahoma’s botched death row injection. I wonder if that and the other incident on botched attempt lead to the renewed interest in the electric chair. Oklahoma had an electric chair in the past. I shutter that there is a technology company that explores new methods to make an electric chair more efficient.

    I don’t think the concept of “Death” as a punishment for certain crimes will ever leave Oklahoma. That said, I’m sure the Oklahoma Legislature has assigned an ad hoc committee to explore the notion of revisiting the electric chair as an alternative to botched injections.

    • I think a combination of things has led to the renewed interest in the electric chair. First, is the shortage that has developed of the drugs they use for lethal injections as a result of the boycotts on selling the drugs to the United States (because they know what the drugs will be used for). This has sparked debate not only about lethal injections, but about what alternative drugs are available and the alternative methods as well. The botched injections certainly don’t help people have confidance in the efficacy of injections as a means for enforcing the death penalty either.

      I do not think that the death penalty will ever leave the vast majority of Southern states (Texas included). It would take a very dramatic sea change for the Federal Government to change the law and enforce it on the states either. As a country, we still approve drone strikes. We still approve assassination of American citizens.

  2. the Julles says:

    I have heard that the injections are not as “humane” as we are led to believe. I heard that they make the person appear to be sleeping, so the people “witnessing” (i.e. watching) feel like it’s peaceful and kindly. But instead, the person is rendered paralyzed, unable to move or cry out, while he slowly and agonizingly suffocates, because his lungs are also paralyzed. We put animals to sleep much more quickly and painlessly – why not humans? Also, I cn’at believe there is a dearth of leathal injection drugs. For God’s sake – if we can’t get them from Europe, go and mix some up over here! It can’t be rocket science, and even if it were, we, the United States of America, who flies men to the Moon and back, can surely mix up a little fatal toxin.

    • Your points are well taken. I am skeptical of the shortage as well and wonder why an alternative can not be procured. I often wonder why it is so complicated. Anesthesiologists put people under all day prior to surgery and people do not feel a thing while they are out. Surely we could come up with something similar.

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