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Tennessee To Use Electric Chair As Death Penalty When Lethal Injection Drugs Are Unavailable

23/05/2014 13:59 BST | Updated 28/05/2014 09:59 BST

Tennessee’s governor has approved a plan to allow the state to electrocute death row inmates in the event that prisons are unable to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injections.

It comes following a scarcity of the necessary drugs in the wake of a European-led boycott of the substances for executions.

Republican governor Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on Thursday after lawmakers passed the legislation in April, the Associated Press reports.

electric chair tennessee

An undated photo of the electric chair at the Tennessee State prison in Nashville

Bill sponsor Senator Ken Yager explained he introduced the legislation “because of a real concern that we could find ourselves in a position that if the chemicals were unavailable to us that we would not be able to carry out the sentence.”

“This is unusual and might be both cruel and unusual punishment,” Richard Dieter, president of the Death Penalty Information Centre said in comments reported by CNN.

“No state says what Tennessee says. This is forcing the inmate to use electrocution,” he added, describing the electrical chair as a “brutal alternative”.

The drug shortage comes after European manufacturers banned US prisons from using their drugs in executions following a successful campaign by death penalty activists.

A Vanderbilt University poll released on Wednesday found 56 per cent of Tennesseans supported the law to allow electrocutions if lethal injection drugs were not available.

The state has not executed a death row inmate since 2009, in part because of difficulty in obtaining lethal injection drugs, The Tennessean writes.

It adds Tennessee has scheduled executions by lethal injection for at least 10 death row inmates.

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Karla Faye Tucker: Executed Feb. 3, 1998; Age 38

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Elliot Johnson: Executed June 24, 1987; Age 38

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Ignacio Cuevas: Executed May 23, 1991; Age 59

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David Goff: Executed April 25, 2001; Age 31

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Robert Black Jr: Executed May 22, 1992; Age 45

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Samuel Hawkins: Executed Feb. 21, 1995; Age 52

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Leonel Herrera: Executed May 12,1993; Age 45

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Miguel Richardson: Executed June 26, 2001; Age 46

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Richard Beavers: Executed April 4, 1994; Age 39

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Edward Green: Executed Oct. 5, 2004; Age 30

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Tommie Hughes: Executed March 15, 2006; Age 31

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Javier Cruz: Executed Oct. 1, 1998; Age 41

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Willie Shannon: Executed Nov. 8, 2006; Age 30

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Robert Thompson: Executed Nov. 19, 2009; Age 34

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Randall Hafdahl Sr: Executed Jan. 31, 2002; Age 48

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Franklin Alix: Executed March 30, 2010; Age 34

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Robert Coulson: Executed June 25, 2002; Age 34

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Luis Salazar: Executed March 11, 2009; Age 38

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Allen Janecka: Executed July 24, 2003; Age 53

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Mathis Milton: Executed June 21, 2011; Age 32

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Vincent Gutierrez: Executed March 28, 2007; Age 28

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Edgar Tamayo: Executed Jan. 22, 2014; Age 46

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