The State of Tennessee has been making national headlines for its aggressive and unprecedented efforts to carry out the death penalty. In December, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office requested dates for ten executions. The first is set for October and would mark only the seventh person executed by the state since 1960.
Then last month, Governor Haslam signed into a law a measure that would make the electric chair mandatory, if lethal injection drugs are unavailable. There are only eight other states that authorize use of the electric chair by request of the person facing the death penalty. This new law makes Tennessee the only state that mandates use of the electric chair without the consent of the person facing execution.
These new developments run counter to national thinking on the death penalty — public support has dropped significantly in the last two decades. In 1996, 78% of Americans supported the death penalty. In 2013, the number had dropped to 55%. In recent years, 18 states have eliminated the death penalty and in three more states, governors have placed moratoriums on its use.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that for the first time, a majority of Americans support life sentences instead of the death penalty for people convicted of murder.
The organization, Tennesseans Against the Death Penalty, has produced a new short film to advocate for alternatives to execution and to disprove the most popular myths surrounding the death penalty.
The next meeting for the Memphis chapter of Tennesseans Against the Death Penalty is scheduled for July 7th, 2014 at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.