Legislature approves electrocution for executions if lethal drugs unavailable

The House has joined the Senate in approving a bill authorizing electrocution to be used in Tennessee executions if lethal injection drugs are not available.

The bill (SB2580) was approved by the House 68-13 after brief debate wherein members exchanged views on the death penalty generally. It was approved earlier by the Senate, but must return to that body for concurrence on a relatively minor amendment.

Democratic Reps. Johnny Shaw of Boliver and Johnnie Turner of Memphis said they were opposed to capitol punishment and could not support the bill.

“I believe in allowing the law of God to punish a man for his sins,” said Shaw. “Life or death is not in my hands.”

“I agree it’s not our job to judge. Our job is to arrange the meeting,” replied Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, the bill’s House sponsor.

Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, praised the bill, saying murderers “never afforded their victims a painless death or any sympathy or empathy in any way.”

The bill has earlier passed the Senate 23-3.