NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The state of Tennessee has asked the Tennessee State Supreme Court if it can kill 10 Death Row inmates this year, the most it has ever asked to kill at one time, under a new law passed this year which allows the state to hide most of the details of the executions from the public.
“When we saw how we could hide what we’re doing from everyone, we just went hog wild,” said Sharon Curtis-Flair, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. “We don’t have to tell you who’s doing the killing, exactly how we’re doing the killing, or even where we got the stuff we used to do the killing. If you ask nice. maybe we’ll tell you the inmate’s final words. Here’s a hint. Gghhaaaa!!!! That’ll be followed by someone yelling ‘Next!’”
Not everyone approves of the new secrecy around the state’s executions. “Tennesseans should be concerned because these executions are ostensibly for them,” said assistant public defender Kelley Henry, who represents several of the inmates. “They are carried out in the name of the people. The people have a right to know that the Department of Corrections isn’t torturing citizens using public funds.
“And if they are, the people have a right to watch,” he added.
Observers speculated as to the cause of Tennessee’s sudden execution frenzy. The state has only executed six people since 1960, and none since 2009. “For lack of a better word, [executions] sort of backed up,” said Nashville defense attorney David Raybin. “I think what they’ve done is, they’ve said, ‘We’ve backed up for so long and now we want to put them all on a fast track because nothing has happened for years.’
“Put simply, they’re bored,” he concluded.
Others however, point to the death of Death Row inmate Paul Dennis Reid Jr. this past November in a hospital bed. The quiet, peaceful death of a man convicted of murdering seven fast-food restaurant workers in 1997 caused a public outcry.
“You’ve got a guy who killed all those people, the most infamous guy on death row, and he dies a natural death,” Raybin said. “Some people could say, ‘We’re offended because he wasn’t executed.’ So now they’re gonna make damn sure the next Death Row inmate who dies is killed by the good people of Tennessee.”
“But in secret,” he added.