Supreme Court upholds Tenn. death penalty decision
Today the United States Supreme Court refused to review the October 2005 decision of the Tennessee Supreme Court upholding the state’s lethal injection protocol. In Abdur’Rahman v. Bredesen, the state’s highest court had rejected the claim of death row prisoner Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman that the lethal injection protocol violated the Eighth Amendment because it constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
Attorney General Paul Summers said: “It serves to confirm what my office has long argued and what our state supreme court has held: designed as it is to render the condemned inmate almost immediately unconscious, the state’s lethal injection protocol does not and can not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.”
The court noted that all of the medical experts who testified in the case agreed that the first of the three drugs administered under the protocol “causes nearly immediate unconsciousness and eventually death.”
Highway Patrol to up traffic enforcement for holiday
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is planning increased enforcement for the Memorial Day weekend in an effort to reduce fatalities on Tennessee roadways.
During the 2005 Memorial Day holiday weekend 20 people died on Tennessee roadways, up 54% from 13 deaths in 2004. That’s a rate of one death every three hours, 54 minutes. Eight of the fatalities happened in automobile crashes.
In Sevier County, two people were killed over the ’05 Memorial Day on SR 35.
“Too many people died on Tennessee roadways during the Memorial Day holiday last year, but what is even more troubling is the fact that 75 percent of those killed in automobile crashes were not wearing a safety belt,” stated THP Colonel Mike Walker. The Tennessee Highway Patrol will conduct increased patrols beginning May 22 targeting those who violate the safety belt and child restraint law and aggressive, negligent or drunk drivers across the state.
Lotto monies extend to after-school
Lawmakers approved a measure that directs the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation (TELC) to deposit all unclaimed lottery prize money to an after-school program special account. Presently, 50 percent of unused funds are deposited into a prize pool for future scholarship awards, with the balance dedicated to after-school programs.
The state Department of Education administers two extended after-school programs. LEAPs or “Lottery for Education: Afterschool Programs,” is targeted for the additional TELC money.
This House Democratic-sponsored measure is a solid victory for academic enrichment programs. The available funds could double for competitive grants and technical assistance for those organizations that provide our state’s after-school educational programs.
An estimated $7 million could be available initially for LEAPs. The bill, however, mandates that any additional expenses to the Department of Education that result from administering after-school programs also be paid from the dedicated account.