Tennessee Issues New Lethal Injection Protocols; Court Challenges and ABA Objections Continue

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen (pictured) lifted the moratorium on executions that he imposed in February after accepting revised death penalty protocols submitted by the Tennessee Department of Corrections just days before the next execution. Though the new procedures include more detailed guidelines for carrying out lethal injections, the state will continue to use a controversial three-drug "cocktail" and exclude doctors from participating, meaures that some say risk severe and unnecessary pain. Legal challenges to the lethal injection process continue.

In February 2007, Gov. Bredesen expressed concerns about the manner in which executions were carried out in the state and ordered a halt to executions until May 2. He 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." In April, the American Bar Association issued a review of Tennessee's death penalty and urged Bredesen to extend the state's moratorium on executions "to permit a thorough review of every aspect of capital punishment administration in the state." The ABA noted that the review should include an examination of "excessive caseloads and inadequate standards for defense counsel" and "racial disparities and inadequate review of death row inmates' claims of actual innocence."

Tennessee has scheduled the execution of Philip Workman for May 9.

(Jurist Legal News & Research, May 1, 2007). Read the revised Tennessee Death Penalty Protocols. Read the Executive Summary of the ABA's study. See also, Lethal Injection and Executions.