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As the nation faces the challenge of a lethal injection drug shortage, Tennessee has found its solution. If it cannot obtain the drugs, prisons will use the electric chair for those on death row once more.
There are currently eight states that use the electric chair. However, these states give the prisoners the option to use the chair, whereas Tennessee will not.
The proposed bill passed in both Senate and the House with very few objecting. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill Thursday, which pleased some and angered others.
Richard Dieter, president of the Death Penalty Information Center, told CNN that he believes the decision to be unconstitutional.
“No state does what Tennessee says. This is forcing the inmate to use electrocution. This is unusual and may be cruel and unusual punishment," he said.
The current lethal drug method has also caused a lot of controversy recently after several cases illustrate its flaws. In one case, murdered Clayton Lockett of Oklahoma clenched his teeth after officials had already deemed him unconscious. In another Oklahoma case, Denis McGuire reported that after receiving the drugs, he felt as though his body were burning alive, The Associated Press noted.
California state senator Ken Yeager believes the electric chair option is the one way to assure that the death row mates serve their sentence. He fears that without it, death row mates may not get the punishment they deserve if the U.S. were to run out of lethal drugs.
The majority of Tennessee's registered voters approve of the legislation with 56 percent for it and only 37 percent against it, based on a Vanderbilt University poll.