"A Specter of Past Executions Resurfaces in Tennessee," is Dan Barry's latest This Land column in the New York Times. Here's the beginning of this must-read:
A man who had shot to death his four young children, for reasons known only to him, sat in the wooden chair reserved for him at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. His body was strapped tight and his head was freshly shaved, to enhance the conductivity.
I could see him, but he could not see me. We sat perhaps 30 feet apart, on opposite sides of a one-way glass partition that separated those who would walk away that September night in 2007 from one man who would not.
The electric chair had not been used in Tennessee since 1960, a reflection of a nation’s discomfort with a procedure that had come to be seen as gruesome, if not cruel. But the condemned man, Daryl Holton, 45, had been given a choice between lethal injection and electrocution. To the dismay of prison officials, he had chosen the latter — again, for reasons known only to him.