A bill that would allow the State of Tennessee to conduct executions by firing squad has stalled in a state House committee Wednesday because of the cost. The death penalty in Tennessee has been in limbo since last year, when problems with its lethal injection protocol came to light.
Governor Bill Lee was forced to stop an execution last April after it was discovered that officials hadn’t conducted required testing on the lethal injection drugs. A third-party investigation found the state hadn’t been following its own protocol since 2018.
State Representative Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) said his firing squad bill could offer a way to address “some of the problems we’ve had.”
In a filing submitted last year in a federal lawsuit, the state stated that “TDOC does not know where it would begin to address firing squad safety measures and contingencies.” The filing also references the high cost of building a safe space and paying for training hours, among other concerns. The bill was sidelined in the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee on Wednesday because of the associated costs, which aren’t funded in the governor’s budget proposal. The panel could revisit it after considering the budget.
Tennessee is one of many states to confront complications related to lethal injections. Some states have struggled to get the needed drugs, which major pharmaceutical companies won’t provide. Others have struggled with quality control and efficacy.
Lawmakers in Idaho are advancing a firing squad measure after prison officials said they could not get lethal injection chemicals.