published Friday, August 1st, 2014

Alabama lawmaker supports return to electric chair

In this 1994 file photo, Tennessee's electric chair and its control panel are shown in Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
In this 1994 file photo, Tennessee's electric chair and its control panel are shown in Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A state legislator wants Alabama to resume executions using the electric chair since drug shortages have brought lethal injections to halt.

State Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, told The Decatur Daily in a story published Friday he favors electrocutions because of continuing delays obtaining drugs used to perform lethal injections.

With the state out of needed drugs, Greer said he would talk Monday with prison officials and the Alabama District Attorneys Association about the possibility of bringing back the electric chair as the state's main execution method.

Alabama switched from electrocution to lethal injection as its primary execution method 12 years ago. Condemned inmates can still ask to die in the chair, but none has.

"You'd have to be dumb to choose the electric chair," said Greer.

Leaders have said the state probably won't be able to resume lethal injections before spring 2015 at the earliest. Greer said he would sponsor legislation to make the switch back to the electric chair.

Gov. Robert Bentley has said he opposes switching back to electrocution, which would require new legislation and provide defense lawyers with new avenues for appeals.

Alabama is among the death penalty states facing chronic shortages of execution drugs because European manufacturers banned their export for use in executions and U.S. makers are putting restrictions on their products for use in capital punishment.

Earlier this year, Greer proposed legislation that would have made confidential the names of the lethal-injection drug suppliers. That measure failed, but legislative leaders say a bill offering limited protection to pharmaceutical companies could pass next year.

Alabama's death row — located at three separate prisons partly because of the large number of inmates awaiting execution — now holds 195 inmates. Of those, 16 have exhausted their appeals.

Greer said he would sponsor legislation to make the switch back to the electric chair.

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