A new law signed on Thursday by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam will allow the state to electrocute prisoners to death if the approved lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained.
Tennessee is the first state to enact a law to reintroduce the electric chair without giving prisoners an option, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that opposes executions and tracks the issue.
"There are states that allow inmates to choose, but it is a very different matter for a state to impose a method like electrocution," he said. "No other state has gone so far."
Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill in April, with the Senate voting 23-3 and the House 68-13.
One lawmaker, Republican state Sen. Ken Yager, the bill's main sponsor, said he introduced the bill because he was worried the state might have trouble legally killing people.
"[There was] 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," he said.
Following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, several states have scrambled for new (or, more accurately, old) ideas for effectively killing inmates, including Utah, where lawmakers want to bring back firing squads.
[Image via AP]