Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Panel Focuses on Death Penalty as New Tennessee Execution Looms

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 at 10:41 AM

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A panel of experts who have had front-row seats to state-sanctioned executions will discuss the death penalty here Thursday as the state prepares to carry out its first execution since 2009.

Last week, a judge ruled the state's lethal injection protocol does not violate the Tennessee Constitution nor the United States Constitution. State officials adopted the new, three-drug injection in January to replace another drug, which became hard to get as some drug makers refused sell it to anyone hoping to use it for executions.

The new injection — made from midazolam, vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride — has never been used in Tennessee. Attorneys for 33 death-row inmates have said using it would leave inmates aware and sensate during the execution and its effect is like “being burned alive from the inside.”

However, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle of the Davidson County Chancery Court ruled last week that, while using the drugs may cause pain, it does not amount to torture.

State officials are planning to kill Billy Ray Irrick on August 9th. Irrick got the death penalty for the 1986 rape and murder of a seven-year-old Knox County girl. Attorneys argue he has a mental illness that has never been fully explored in court.

Irrick’s attorneys are now working to get a stay on his execution until they can get an appeal on the use of the state’s new injection.
click to enlarge Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville is home to Tennessee's death row. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville is home to Tennessee's death row.

A Shelby County man, Sedrick Clayton, is scheduled for execution on November 28th. He was convicted and sentenced to death here in 2014 for murdering the mother of his child and her parents. 
  • Clayton

The state's last execution was in December 2009. Cecil Johnson was killed at Nashville's Riverbend Maximum Security Institution for the murder of three, in a store in 1980.

This is the stage for Thursday’s panel discussion hosted by Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (TADP). The panel will focus on how executions impact corrections staff.

The panel includes Frank Thompson, former superintendent of Oregon State Penitentiary, who oversaw the state’s only executions in the modern death penalty era, and retired Chaplain Jerry Welborn, who served as Tennessee’s death row chaplain from 1997-2014.

When: Thursday, August 2, 2018, from 6:00-7:15 p.m.
Where: Evergreen Presbyterian Church, 1567 Overton Park Ave., Memphis, 38112

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