The state of Tennessee is now seeking at execution date for Edward Jerome (E.J.) Harbison after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit over Tennessee’s lethal injection protocols.
Harbison was sentenced to death for beating an elderly woman to death during a botched burglary in 1983 in Chattanooga. He had been scheduled to be executed in January 2008 but was granted a stay based on his challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s lethal injection protocols. In 2007, District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled that Tennessee’s lethal injection protocols did, in fact, violate Harbison’s Eighth Amendment right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. Since that time, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the current lethal injection process used across the country is constitutional.
Harbison’s case is rife with issues of fairness, arbitrariness, and ineffective assistance of counsel. Regardless of one’s opinions about the death penalty, it is difficult to look at Harbison’s case and maintain that the process was fair and equitable. You can read a summary of Harbison’s case on our website under the heading “Cases.”
Though we remain deeply grateful for the outcome in the case of Gaile Owens, the fact remains that Tennessee has now set two executions dates before the end of 2010 and is seeking two additional dates. If these executions happen, almost as many people will be executed in 2010 than in the state since 1960 (only 6 have been executed in that time frame and all since 2000).
It is time for Tennesseans to get involved and let our lawmakers know we don’t need the death penalty to ensure public safety and to hold offenders accountable. Sign up to become a part of TADP and to join us in this struggle.
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