NASHVILLE - A law took effect this week in Tennessee making it the first U.S. state to have the option of executing death row inmates with the electric chair if drugs for lethal injections are not available. Billy Ray Irick, who was convicted of murder in the death of a 7-year-old girl he was babysitting in 1985, is the next Tennessee death row inmate scheduled to be executed, on Oct. 7. Corrections officials have said they have no lethal injection drugs on hand but are confident they can obtain them when needed. Tennessee's electric chair has a long and storied history within the state.
Tennessee is one of several states to nickname its electric chair 'Old Sparky.' The chair was built out of the gallows used by the state before it abolished hangings in 1913. A replacement chair was built in 1989, but it kept the old wooden back legs.