The death penalty is not only unconstitutional, but a failed government program – broken and serving no one. Yet this week, legislators will take up a bill that would expedite imposition of the death penalty in certain cases.
SB 1112/HB 289 requires executions to take place within 30 business days of the conclusion of any appeals or post-conviction relief if a jury unanimously determines that certain criteria are met.
This legislation puts Tennessee at risk of executing innocent people. Between 1973 and 2019, 173 people have been exonerated and released from death row because they were innocent. Others were executed before their innocence was later proven. Speeding up executions leaves limited time to determine whether the wrong person will be executed.
What’s more, the death penalty in America is a broken system from beginning to end. Whether or not someone is executed is largely dependent on how much money they have, the skill of their attorneys, the race of the victim, and where the crime took place.
And in Tennessee, an independent investigator recently reported that the state’s lethal injection protocols were not being implemented properly. The state was fully prepared to execute seven people using improperly tested, and at times defective, drugs that create the sensation of drowning or burning alive – in the name of all Tennesseans. Why would we ever consider legislation that would rush the execution process?