The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the state’s method of lethal injection, which should allow executions to resume in the state.
In a unanimous opinion, the state’s high court said that using the drug pentobarbital to execute prisoners is constitutional. Attorneys representing inmates were unable to convince justices that the method amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
The justices state clearly that there is a risk in administering a lethal injection — that a problem, or pain, could occur if the proper measures aren’t taken. But they reject the claim that Tennessee’s step-by-step protocol is inherently dangerous or confusing.
The justices were also asked whether the compounding of the pentobarbital runs afoul of federal drug laws. But that argument was also dismissed.
The lethal drug has been in short supply, and The Tennessean reported earlier this month that the state currently does not have access to any.
Lawmakers have approved death by electrocution in the event those drugs remain unavailable.
The last Tennessee execution was in 2009.