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.
In Ohio, a federal judge recently wrote that part of the state’s lethal injection protocol is akin to waterboarding, and botched procedures in other states have left men writhing in agony.
“When everything works perfectly, it’s about 14 minutes of pain and horror,” said Stephen Kissinger, an assistant federal community defender who has represented Mr. Sutton and other death row inmates. “Then, they look at electrocution, and how long does it take?”