Tennessee ‘ready’ to use electric chair if need be

In this Oct. 13, 1999 file photo, Ricky Bell, then warden at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tenn., gives a tour of the prison's execution chamber. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

In this Oct. 13, 1999 file photo, Ricky Bell, then warden at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, Tenn., gives a tour of the prison’s execution chamber. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

By Erik Schelzig

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee’s top prisons official says the state is “ready as needed” to use the electric chair if it can’t get the drugs used for lethal injections.

A corrections spokeswoman said Friday that the state doesn’t have a supply of the drugs but authorities are confident they could acquire some. The chemicals have become scarcer following a European-led boycott of drug sales for executions.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill into law Thursday that allows the state to electrocute current and future death row inmates if it can’t obtain the drugs. It’s the first such law in the country.

The governor says he sees the measure as a backup plan.

Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield says he is comfortable with the state’s procedures for ensuring the electric chair would work.