East Tennesseans Debate Death Penalty

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Knoxville (WVLT) - Governor Bredesen will lift a 90-day ban on executions Wednesday. Tennessee is ready to resume executions under new rules now, making lethal injections less painful.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford spoke with local courts and clergy to get their thoughts on the death penalty.

The Tennessee Department of Correction came up with new written protocols, at the Governor's request, to fix problems in the state's death penalty procedures.

"They went through and made the medical/scientific determination of the most effective, least painful way of causing a person condemned to die, to die," John Gill, with the Knox County District Attorney's Office, says they found less painful chemicals to use for the lethal injections. "It's not the purpose of this to cause suffering. The purpose of this is to end a life."

"God is the author of all life and there's a certain value and importance given to human life," Knoxville Catholic Diocese Chancellor, Father Van Johnston, says he's disappointed with Governor Bredesen's stance on the death penalty. "Human life should not be taken, except in matters of self-defense when that is the last resort against an unjust aggressor."

Morals aside, defense attorney Bruce Poston says he's against the death penalty. "It costs so many millions of dollars to apply it, that it seems to me, we're better off, it's cheaper to have life without [parole]."

Phillip Workman is scheduled to die next week for killing a Memphis police officer, but Poston says execution is not a deterrent. "If he were served a life sentence without parole, all the younger guys that go to prison will look at this pathetic, older figure."

"There are some studies that show the death penalty is a deterrent," adds Gill.

We want to know what you think about the death penalty in Tennessee. Take part in our poll and be sure to leave your comments below.


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  • by vera Location: Powell TN on Jan 8, 2008 at 12:33 AM
    i believe that the death penalty should be carried out as humanly as possible which is more than the criminal did for their victims. Speaking of the criminals constitutional rights I believe that when they willfully committ they should know that they will receive punishment and most criminals know that it will be almost a lifetime before they are executed. I think that we are to easy on the criminals today. They have a life of 3 meals a day a warm place to sleep, recrational areas, tvs libraies, where's the punishment. Just being locked up is not really a deteroiant to crime. I think we need to go back to the old way of punishing criminals and quit treating them to all the luxuries that some people out in the world don't even have.
  • by Oliver Pogue Location: Berea Ky on May 3, 2007 at 04:50 PM
    I can't believe all you people who want the ten commandments placed in government facilities, yet, apparently you can't read. It says: thou shall not kill. I don't see the ambiguity in that. It's not civilized and the death penalty is unfairly handed out, poor people, and people of color are given the death penalty in disproportionate numbers. Rich people walk, while the poor fry or die a painful death from lethal injection. It's sick, and in my opinion, people who love the death penalty so much are just a bunch of ignorant barbarians.
  • by Kathryn Freeman Location: Loudon, Tn on May 3, 2007 at 04:43 PM
    Even our dubiously elected? prez, g.w. Bush claims to support a culture of life, yet, he presided over more executions as governor of texas than any other governors, i believe, during that same time period. and now look at the death and destruction his lies have caused in iraq countless iraqies dead and over 3000 American lives lost. For what? How do we teach children that it is wrong to kill (ten commandments) , when we engage in bazaar and cruel state sponsored killing? Children are not stupid, even though they are young, they are generally born honest and pure, and they will see the glaring hypocrisy in our practices. I used to be proud when i was young that the u.s. (like most civilized nations) banned the death penalty. It's shameful what we do. It doesn't deter crim, just look at the statistics. People who kill don't value their own lives let alone those of others. So killing them just makes them martyrs, like Jesus. Life in prison without parole offers them the best opportunity for redemption, to realize what they did.
  • by Jennifer Location: Knoxville on May 2, 2007 at 02:42 PM
    I am for the death penalty. It some cases, it is necessrary. Such as, my friends Chris Newsom and Channon Christian who were brutally raped and murdered in January. Those five people who did that to them should die, if convicted.
  • by James Walker Location: Newport on May 2, 2007 at 02:23 PM
    I've had two in my family excuted in the electric chair in Florida and both these boy's were very mean and they killed without any reason whatsoever,an old man who they knew very well and their Mother turned them over,I felt they met GODS requirement to be put to death,by the way the penalty was from GOD himself,not man.I still support it.
  • by Carol Location: Niota on May 2, 2007 at 11:13 AM
    I think they need to go though with the inmates that are on death row. That might show some of these people you can't go out and kill someone for no reason.Or because you caught them with your spouse.Maybe the jails wouldn't be over crawded. And why should it be less painful,it more than likely wasn't less painful for the person they killed.To Father Van Johnston,he may need to pay to have some more jails and staff to take care of these inmates.And these people that don't want the death penalty need to fork out some extra money to pay for thair health care and food.The State of Tenn is so far behind on the inmates on death row,it might take millions to get everybody that's got it coming. But when it get finished there might not be a need to do it that often. If God don't want them to die their not going to.
  • by Jimmy Location: Knoxville on May 2, 2007 at 06:17 AM
    If, you take and send some one to jail for life they will sit there and train other much younger offender's ways and new methods of over taking law enforcement officers and new ways to commit a crime without getting caught. Now you answer will it be better to take a life and spend the extra money? Or will it be better to let these people take lives that have done nothing wrong
  • by robert Location: my office on May 1, 2007 at 08:53 PM
    what a specious attack -- we who are still in the vigor of youth, or maturity look at the elderly out here in the free world with some pity. does their infirm condition deter us from living free? then why should the sight of the elderly in prison deter kids inside from freely committing crime?
  • by Scott Location: Sevierville on May 1, 2007 at 08:34 PM
    I was a Correctional Officer for 7 years. Anyone that has killed another person on purpose needs to die!

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