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Federal judge rules Tennessee lethal injection procedure 'cruel and inhumane'

[JURIST] A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Tennessee's execution procedures constitute "cruel and unusual" punishment, derailing plans to execute a death row inmate next week. US District Judge Aleta Trauger [official profile] held that revised death penalty protocols [PDF text; JURIST report], devised by the Tennessee Department of Corrections in April at the request of Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen [official website], do not ensure that prisoners' are properly anesthetized before they receive a lethal injection and thus violate their constitutional Eighth Amendment rights. The Tennessee Attorney General's office has not yet decided whether or not it will appeal the decision.
AP has more.

Bredesen ordered a moratorium on executions [executive order, PDF; JURIST report] in February and directed the Tennessee Department of Corrections to conduct a "comprehensive review of the manner in which death sentences are administered... and provide [the governor] new protocols and related written procedures in administering death sentences in Tennessee." Bredesen accepted the new protocols and the state conducted its first execution [JURIST report] under the new rules in May. The new protocol includes more detailed guidelines for administering lethal injections but still includes a controversial three-drug "cocktail" which some say may be ineffective in preventing inmates from suffering a painful death [JURIST report]. Tennessee executed [JURIST report] a condemned man by electric chair last week, the first execution by electrocution in the state since 1960.

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