Tennessee inmate chooses electric chair over lethal injection

A decommissioned electric chair in TexasImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

The electric chair has gradually been replaced as the main method of execution

An inmate in the US state of Tennessee is to be executed by electric chair after arguing that a lethal injection would involve suffering.

David Earl Miller, who has spent 36 years on death row, is among an increasing number of inmates attempting to avoid lethal injection following several botched executions.

Another Tennessee inmate, Edmund Zagorski, was electrocuted last month.

Lethal injection is the state’s main method of execution.

However, inmates in the state whose crimes were committed before 1999 are allowed to choose electrocution instead.

In court, both Miller and Zagorski had cited the August execution of Billy Ray Irick, who turned purple and took 20 minutes to die, AP reported.

Zagorski’s execution was the second time the state’s electric chair had been used since 1960.

Miller, who is due to be executed on Thursday, was found guilty of killing a 23-year-old mentally ill woman in 1981.

Why is lethal injection controversial?

Miller, 61, and Zagorski, 63, argued that the midazolam-based lethal injection used by Tennessee would lead to a prolonged and painful death.

It follows a series of executions using a variety of drug combinations where prisoners have appeared to suffer. The US constitution bans cruel and unusual punishments.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

Tennessee electrocuted Edmund Zagorski last month

In September a doctor told a court in Tennessee that Irick felt pain akin to torture during his execution, The Tennessean reported.

Dr David Lubarsky argued that the midazolam sedated Irick but did not prevent him from feeling the effects of the other two drugs injected as part of the execution.

Proponents of lethal injection argue that the process is painless.

Miller is also one of four death row inmates who have brought a federal case asking Tennessee to use a firing squad instead of either lethal injection or electrocution, the Tennessean reported.

In neighbouring Alabama, more than 50 inmates have chosen to be killed in the nitrogen gas chamber rather than be given a lethal injection after being given the option earlier this year, Vox reported.

Which states use the electric chair?

Electrocution is no longer the main method of execution in any US state.

Courts in Georgia and Nebraska have said the electric chair is unconstitutional.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe five ways the US executes – in 45 secs

However, Miller has been told he cannot argue that the electric chair is unconstitutional because he himself has chosen it, AP reported.

Hanging was the most common form of capital punishment in the US until the 1890s. Then, the electric chair became the most widespread method.

In 1982, the first execution by lethal injection was carried out by the state of Texas, after which it gradually replaced the electric chair across the nation.


More on the US death penalty

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionExecution of Clayton Lockett (pictured): Journalist and witness Courtney Francisco describes what she saw – some may find this audio distressing.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shares