It’s probably not a choice any of us would wish to have to make, but death row inmates in some states are opting to forgo lethal injection and instead choosing an older and more reliable technology: electrocution. The New York Times features the story of one inmate in Tennessee who has made this choice. His name is Nicholas Sutton and he “fears” the process of lethal injection and has used that state’s option for going with “old sparky” instead. But is it really any better? He may find out soon enough since he’s scheduled to be executed tonight.
Nicholas Sutton, like other death row inmates in Tennessee, has a choice in how the state will end his life.
The default, as set by state law, would be a series of injections, one to sedate him, followed by others that would paralyze him and stop his heart. Yet Mr. Sutton, like four other inmates executed before him in Tennessee since 2018, has chosen the state’s other option: Two cycles of 1,750 volts of electricity.
Nationally, the electric chair is a method of the past; no other state has used it since 2013. But inmate advocates and lawyers say the condemned men in Tennessee are choosing electrocution because they fear being frozen in place and feeling intense discomfort while drugs work to kill them.
The Gray Lady seems to be building some sort of sympathy case for Sutton, describing all the horrors of some botched lethal injection executions in the past. But before we get too choked up over his predicament, it’s worth reminding everyone why Sutton is in his current predicament.