The No. 1 killer of death row inmates in Tennessee is natural causes. Since 2000, when executions in Tennessee resumed after a 40-year hiatus, nine death row inmates have died of natural causes and another committed suicide. Six have been executed, reported the Tennessean.
Recently, Tennessee taxpayers spent more than $600,000 to keep mass murderer Paul Dennis Reid alive so they could execute him.
But they never got the chance.
Instead, one of the state's most notorious killers died Nov. 1, not strapped to a gurney on death row, but in a bed at Nashville General Hospital at Meharry. Cause of death? Complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia.
It was a death that brought no relief to some of the survivors of Reid's victims, seven people he killed in a 1997 Middle Tennessee murder spree. Connie Black's daughter Michelle Mace was one of seven people Reid killed during three fast-food restaurant shootings.
"It wasn't supposed to happen this way," she said the day Reid died. "He just died a normal death like everyone else."
These deaths raise questions about not only the efficiency, but also the economics of having the death penalty in Tennessee. A 2004 study commissioned by the Tennessee comptroller of the Treasury concluded that the death penalty was cheaper than life in prison, in terms of housing costs. But that assumed inmates actually would be executed, something that hasn't been done since 2009.
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