What States Still Use the Electric Chair?

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As of September 2014, eight states still have electrocution available as an execution method, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. These states primarily use lethal injection for inmate executions, and the electric chair is used only at the convict’s discretion in most jurisdictions. Nebraska used electrocution for executions until the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional in 2008.

Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia allow death row inmates to choose between lethal injection and electrocution no matter the circumstances. Arkansas allows inmates who committed crimes before July 4, 1983, to choose between lethal injection or electrocution. Kentucky stipulates capital criminals convicted after March 31, 1998, die by lethal injection; otherwise, prisoners can instead select electrocution. Tennessee authorizes lethal injections for capital offenses that occurred after Dec. 31, 1998; otherwise, convicts can choose electrocution.

Oklahoma uses an electric chair for executions as a backup in case lethal injections are found to be unconstitutional. In 2014, Tennessee mandated electrocutions of prisoners if lethal injection drugs are not available. Tennessee was the first state to make such a stipulation.

The electric chair has been used for 158 executions since 1976, as of September 2014. Tennessee executed an inmate using the electric chair in 2007, and the previous such execution in the state was in 1960. Virginia used the electric chair once in 2010 and once in 2013.