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Abolish the Death Penalty

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Guest Blog: Tennessee’s Dysfunctional Death Penalty

Guest Blog: Tennessee’s Dysfunctional Death Penalty

Photo credit: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ten men are currently scheduled to be executed in the state of Tennessee beginning in October 2014, an unprecedented number for a state that has executed only six men since 1960. Recent decisions by the Tennessee General Assembly have made the source of the state's lethal injection drug supply confidential and mandated the use of the electric chair if those drugs become unavailable. 

Tennesseans are concerned. Governor Bill Haslam continues to be asked about the scheduled executions from quarters he may not have anticipated. At a recent American Legion Auxiliary Volunteer Girls State conference, a high school student questioned the Governor about the death penalty calling it “inhumane and an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.” During a Q & A session, at the evangelical Q Ideas conference in Nashville, conference founder Gabe Lyons asked Governor Haslam how, as a Christian, the Governor felt about the death penalty and his option to pardon those scheduled to die. Governor Haslam responded, “The most honest answer is I don’t know because they’re working their way to me, but one hasn’t actually hit with, ‘This is the real date that’s set and you have a decision to make.’” The Governor continued, “I can’t honestly answer when it comes down to 11 o’clock at night the night before, exactly what that will feel like and look like.” We don’t think it will feel or look very good.

Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (TADP) joins NCADP in calling for a halt to executions nationwide. From the horrific, botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma to the release of a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that four percent of those sentenced to death over the last thirty years were wrongfully convicted, the flaws of the system cannot be denied.  

Join NCADP and TADP in asking Governor Haslam to insist that the Tennessee General Assembly review the recommendations of the Tennessee Committee to Study Administration of the Death Penalty’s report, none of which were ever considered by the legislature, before allowing executions to resume in Tennessee. How can citizens have any confidence in our system if lawmakers won’t even consider the flaws indentified by a committee it created, flaws that led to the wrongful convictions of four men in Tennessee, finally released from death row after spending decades fighting those convictions? With the lack of transparency concerning the source of the state’s lethal injection drugs and the possible return of the electric chair, how can Tennesseans have any assurance that what happened in Oklahoma will not happen here?

The clock is ticking and we need you to join with us to stop these executions and ask lawmakers to take a hard look Tennessee’s dysfunctional death penalty.

Tags: #Tennessee

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