Citing deficiencies in Tennessee’s protocols for carrying out the death penalty, Gov. Phil Bredesen issued a three-month moratorium on executions in Tennessee, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The order grants reprieves to four death row inmates scheduled to be put to death before May 2. “I am a supporter of the death penalty,” the governor said, but the state must “carry out these sentences constitutionally and appropriately.” Flanked by Attorney General Bob Cooper and Correction Commissioner George Little, Bredesen said that while preparing for death penalty litigation in federal court, their staffs “identified deficiencies with our written procedures that raise concerns that they are not adequate to preclude mistakes in the future.”
Bredesen ordered Little to present by May 2 new protocols for lethal injection and electrocution. Death penalty opponents hailed the news. “We think it’s a very wise decision. Florida, North Carolina and California are all looking at their protocols for lethal injection particularly,” said Stacy Rector of the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing.