The law was drawn up as various states were encountering
difficulty in obtaining drugs for lethal injections because many
pharmaceutical firms, mainly in Europe, object to their use in
executions. The bill sailed through the state's legislature.
"It gives us another option out there. We've had so many
problems with lethal injection," said the bill's House sponsor
Representative Dennis Powers, who confirmed the bill was signed
by Governor Bill Haslam.
Cade Cothren, spokesman for the state's House Republican Caucus,
also confirmed the bill had been signed. The governor's office
did not respond to repeated calls and emails from Reuters
seeking confirmation and additional information.
Richard Dieter, executive director for the Death Penalty
Information Center, which tracks executions, said that court
battles would likely erupt if an inmate were sentenced to the
"There certainly have been some gruesome electrocutions in the
past and that would weigh on courts' minds," Dieter said when
the bill passed the senate in April.
Lethal injection is the primary execution method in all states
that have capital punishment, but some states allow inmates the
option of electrocution, hanging, firing squad or the gas
Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr. issued an advisory
opinion stating that electrocution is constitutionally
defensible as an execution method earlier this year.
Tennessee last executed an inmate in 2009 and the next execution
is scheduled for October. The state corrections department has
said it is confident of being able to secure drugs when needed.
It has also said its electric chair is operational.
(Editing by Curtis Skinner and Stephen Coates)
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