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Tennessee executions to resume after governor accepts revised lethal injection protocol

[JURIST] Tennessee's moratorium on executions [executive order, PDF] will expire Wednesday after Gov. Phil Bredesen accepted revised death penalty protocols [PDF text] Monday. Bredesen ordered the moratorium [JURIST report] in February and directed the Tennessee Department of Corrections to conduct a "comprehensive review of the manner in which death sentences are administered... and provide [the governor] new protocols and related written procedures in administering death sentences in Tennessee." The new protocol includes more detailed guidelines for administering lethal injections [JURIST news archive] but still includes a controversial three-drug "cocktail" which some say may be ineffective in preventing inmates from suffering a painful death [JURIST report]. According to a letter from Tennessee Corrections Commissioner George M. Little:

After a rigorous consideration of our options and consultation with the review committee, I have directed the continued use of a three-chemical lethal injection protocol. The decision was based on this type of protocol being a proven method of execution. Tennessee and twenty-nine other jurisdictions have used this general method. It has been found to be humane when properly administered. We have significantly improved the documentation and procedures to support the three-chemical protocol.
Tennessee's next execution is currently scheduled to be carried out May 9. AP has more. The Tennessean has local coverage.

Last week, the American Bar Association urged Bredesen to broaden the death penalty review [press release; JURIST report] "to permit a thorough review of every aspect of capital punishment administration in the state," including "excessive caseloads and inadequate standards for defense counsel" and "racial disparities and inadequate review of death row inmates' claims of actual innocence."

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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