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States to try new ways of executing prisoners. Their latest idea? Opioids.

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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Tennessee death row inmates die of natural causes

Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, TN
Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, Tennessee
NASHVILLE - Death Row inmate Gary Cone has passed away at the age of 67.

He was pronounced dead at 9:38 AM on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at a Nashville hospital of natural causes.

Cone was convicted of armed robbery, assault with intent to murder and two counts of first degree murder.

He was sentenced to death in Shelby County in 1982.

After nearly 20 years on death row, William Stevens died Monday at the age of 60.

He was pronounced dead at 1:57 a.m. on April 4, 2016, at a Nashville hospital of natural causes, according to a release from the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

He was an inmate at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison here in Nashville.

Stevens was convicted of especially aggravated robbery and two counts of first degree murder for the 1997 deaths of his wife, 45-year-old Sandra Jean Stevens, and her mother, 75-year-old Myrtle Wilson.

Stevens was found guilty of hiring 18-year-old Corey Milliken to murder the two women and stage a burglary at their home.

He was sentenced to death in 1999. Milliken is serving a life sentence.

In 2002, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld Stevens' death sentence, although one justice offered a dissenting opinion.

Tennessee has not executed anyone since 2009. The state set execution dates for 10 men in early 2014, but in April 2015 all executions were put on hold.

Sources: TNDOC, Nashville Scene, April 20, 2016

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