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Multiple Executions

Execution of Tennessee inmate by electric chair renews debate on cruel and unusual punishment

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WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — There are only nine places in the world that still use the electric chair as an option for execution, and they're all in the United States:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

In Tennessee, prisoners have the option of the electric chair or lethal injection. David Miller is the second Tennessee inmate in just more than a month to choose to die by by electrocution, according to Circa sister station WZTV in Nashville.

Earlier this week, Miller asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his Thursday execution and consider his claims that the electric chair is unconstitutional, but the state's lethal injection method is worse. The 6th Circuit ruled that Miller could not challenge electrocution because he had chosen that method. His lawyers argue that Miller was essentially given two equally torturous options for how to die, and in a country that bans the use of cruel and unusual punishment, that’s a problem.

Just how cruel is the electric chair? That’s not an easy question to answer because, as it turns out, no one's really sure how it works. Medical theories suggest the likely causes of death are cardiac arrest and paralysis of the part of the brain that controls respiration.

Miller is among four other death row inmates in Tennessee who have been pushing to add execution by firing squad and euthanasia by oral cocktail to Tennessee's list of execution methods. He said it would be the least-cruel way for the government to put a human being to death.

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