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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