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The fire this time


The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to consider whether Florida's use of the electric chair is unconstitutional. The court on Jan. 24 declared the issue irrelevant because of a state law passed Jan. 14 that gives death-row inmates the option of "choosing" lethal injection.

The bloody electrocution of Allen Lee Davis this past summer was a catalyst for bringing up the question of whether the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment. Now that Florida offers an alternative, only three states -- Alabama, Georgia and Nebraska -- use the chair as the sole method of execution.

The discussion is not over, however. Attorneys for death-row inmates sentenced specifically to the electric chair will have to deal with whether the lethal-injection law can be applied retroactively. Furthermore, a recent state law that restricts death-penalty appeals in an attempt to speed up executions is being challenged in the Florida Supreme Court.