Protesters oppose new Tenn. electric chair law

Death row inmates file lawsuit to avoid electric chair (Image 1)

Members of the United Methodists Opposed to the Death Penalty assembled across the state capitol Tuesday to voice opposition to a measure Gov. Bill Haslam recently signed into law to allow use of the electric chair if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.

The roughly 50 protesters on War Memorial Plaza prayed, sang songs and held signs.

“The electric chair is a particularly barbaric and brutal form of capital punishment that many states supreme courts have ruled to be cruel and unusual punishment,” said Rev. Matthew L Kelley who is against the death penalty and took part in the peaceful demonstration.

Gov. Bill Haslam defended his decision for signing the controversial bill especially after he said he took into account the overwhelming vote by the state legislature who was in favor of the method. 

“This was a law that was passed overwhelmingly by the state legislature who felt like we needed an alternative to the current means,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

In addition to this pray vigil, the group is hoping to get an open letter to the governor telling him of their concerns. Their hope is that lawmakers will consider abolishing capital punishment all together.

“No human being has the right to sit in judgment of another and decides when another person’s life ends,” said Rev. Kelley.

They pray vigil was also met with opposition.  Some, like Brenda Tindall of Franklin, said capital punishment is necessary to help keep violent crimes down.

“If we set an example and it goes on the news that people are going to the electric chair, do you think they’ll be as many crimes? No, ” said Tindall.

Pastor Vance P. Ross of Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church in Nashville said capital punishment is not the answer.

“Barbarism for barbarism has never been proven to stop barbarism. Let’s stop it. Let’s find another way to be more human than that,” said Rev. Ross

The United Methodists Opposed to the Death Penalty is planning more prayer vigils in the near future.

The last time Tennessee used the electric chair was in 2007.

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