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Study Committee Says TN Death Penalty Unfair

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 By Dan Gordon, Public News Service - TN, Contact
February 27, 2009

Nashville, TN – A group of Tennessee lawmakers is proposing changes to the state's death penalty system. The group on Thursday released results of a capital punishment study and also unveiled legislation proposed to improve the process of executing Tennessee's death row criminals. The recommended legislation includes requiring defense attorneys in capital cases to be highly qualified and requiring police officers to record all interrogations related to homicide cases.

Stacy Rector, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition Against State Killing, sees the 16-month study as proof that current state death-penalty law is inadequate.

"Almost all the testimony given indicted the system."

The cost of the current death penalty system, with numerous appeals allowed, is another reason to revamp it. says Rector.

"Every state that has done a study on cost has found the death penalty system costs millions more to maintain than a system that has life without parole as its maximum punishment."

The four proposed bills related to the committee's recommendations will now go before the state legislature. Those in favor of the death penalty generally agree that, although too much time and money is spent in the current appeals process, the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.

87 inmates currently reside on Tennessee's death row.

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