Tennessee Legislator Suggests ‘Hanging by Tree’ As Execution Method to ‘Speed Up Process’ as Favor to Death Row Prisoners

By Sunny Zhou

NASHVILLE, TN –  When the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee last week discussed a bill to add death by firing squad to the state’s death penalty options, State Representative Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta) suggested amending the bill to include “hanging by tree” as another option.

In committee, HB1245 sponsor Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) explained the bill was needed due to “the problems we’ve had…in lethal injection and in the electric chair, so that’s why we want to give them another choice.” He added that “it will speed up the process for many of them [inmates].”

Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) questioned,”[W]e’re putting that on the table again…because we want to kill people faster?”

On Twitter, Rep. Johnson added, “[s]ince 1973, almost 200 condemned inmates have been found to be wrongly convicted…Most on death row are poor, with unusually high percentage being Black or Brown.”

“I think it’s a very good idea,” Rep. Sherrell said before co-signing the bill. “[C]ould I put an amendment on that? It could include hanging by tree also.”

“This would be stone-cold racist if it were a joke…but it’s not,” tweeted former Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham.

About The Author

Sunny is a third year Political Science student at UC Davis. She is passionate about the intersection between law, justice, and creative media. In her spare time, she enjoys watching films, playing TTRPGs, and creating animated shorts.

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