What is the status of the death penalty in Tennessee?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2020 | Firm News |

Not every state uses the death penalty, and of those that do, there are some that use it often and others that rarely use it. The status of this punishment in Tennessee has had an up and down history. 

According to TN.gov, the only time the state did not have the death penalty was from 1972 to 1978, after the U.S. Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional and from 1913 to 1915 when the state took a break from imposing the sentence. 

Prior to execution 

Until the state carries out a sentence, a prisoner with an execution pending will live on death row, which is in Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Females are kept in the women’s prison and do not have the same segregation as males since there are not typically very many females on death row. 

Use of the punishment 

During the breaks from using the death penalty, the state often took time to ease back into its use. From 1916 to 1960, the state recorded 125 prisoners who died at the hands of the state. After the 1978 reinstatement, it took until almost halfway through 2000 for the first execution. The state put this punishment on hold in early 2007 to examine its nature and revise protocols, but the hold only lasted about three months. 

Types of executions 

In the earliest years, hanging was the state’s main form of carrying out this sentence. As things changed and new methods became available, Tennessee would add to its options with electrocution as the main choice for many decades. 

In fact, anyone with a sentence prior to January 1, 1999, is still allowed to opt for the electric chair. As of March 2000, the official execution method in the state has been lethal injection. Although, two prisoners did choose electrocution in 2007 and 2018. 

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