Tennessee all set to resume executions after nine-year hiatus

Anders Hagstrom, DCNF 

Tennessee is poised to go through with its first execution in nine years as three death row inmates are scheduled to be executed in 2018, the Tennessean reported Thursday.

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)

The hiatus has been partly due to the lengthy appeals process for death row inmates as well as a lack of drugs for lethal injections, according to the Tennessean. Now, however, the state has secured the necessary drugs and at least one of the three offenders is running out of possibilities for his appeals process.

Billy Ray Irick, a 59-year-old man convicted in 1985 for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl is scheduled to be executed on Aug. 9, per a Thursday order from the Tennessee Supreme Court (TCS). Irick has been on death row for over 30 years.

The other two inmates with scheduled executions in 2018 are 41-year-old James Hawkins, who was convicted in 2011 of killing the mother of his three children, and 34-year-old Sedrick Clayton, who was convicted of a triple murder in 2014. Their executions are scheduled for May 9 and Nov. 28 respectively.

It’s likely that they will escape their execution dates, however, as both have federal and state appeals left open to them, TSC spokesperson told the paper. Irick, however, has exhausted all of his federal and state appeals and is more likely to be executed.

All three are scheduled for lethal injection, even though the electric chair is still legal in Tennessee and was used as recently as 2007. State execution procedure dictates that medical staff administer a single shot of pentobarbital, a drug the state lacked in 2017.

Last March, TCS struck down a lawsuit from dozens of death row inmates who argued that lethal injection was unconstitutional. It’s a line of argument that has been replicated across the country, but with little effect. The state had no pentobarbital at the time, but is now equipped to carry out an execution, General Counsel Debbie Inglis told the Tennessean.

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