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Is Tennessee a Capital Punishment State?

Yes, Tennessee is one of 32 states where capital punishment, a/k/a the death penalty, still exists. In fact, three executions took place in 2018 and the Tennessee Supreme Court has scheduled four for 2019 and two for 2020.

Per the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1978 reinstatement of the death penalty, states can write their own capital punishment laws and procedures. FindLaw explains that for Tennessee, this means that if you are a death row prisoner, your life will end via a lethal injection unless you committed the offense for which you received an ultimate conviction prior to January 1, 1999. In that case you can opt for electrocution.

Capital punishment criteria

Capital homicide represents the only crime in Tennessee for which you can be given the death penalty after conviction. Capital homicide criteria include one or more of the following:

  • You were over 18 years of age when you committed this homicide and your victim was under 12 or over 70 years of age.
  • You had received previous felony convictions.
  • You committed the homicide for money or other remuneration.
  • You committed the homicide in a particularly heinous, atrocious or cruel manner.
  • You committed the homicide in an attempt to avoid arrest of yourself or someone else.
  • You killed a law enforcement officer, corrections person, firefighter, judge, attorney general or current or former district attorney because (s)he did his or her official duty or was attempting to do it.

Additional capital homicide criteria include the murder of an elected official, a “mass” murder, a terrorist murder, or the murder of a particularly vulnerable victim, such as someone with decreased metal capacity.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.