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News Scan

Tennessee May Revive Electric Chair: The Tennessee House has adopted a bill that will allow use of the electric chair as an alternative execution method if lethal injection drugs are unavailable.  Erik Schelzig of the Associated Press reports that the bill would keep lethal injection as the preferred method of execution, but will allow the electric chair if execution drugs are not available or executions are delayed by legal challenges to the protocol.  Last week the state Senate passed similar bill.  Tennessee is currently holding 76 condemned murderers on death row.  The state has not carried out an execution since 2009.

NE Murderer May Receive Death Penalty: A Nebraska man who went on a 10-day murder spree days after being released from prison has been convicted of four murders may receive a death sentence.  Katie Knapp Schubert of Reuters reports that 27-year-old Nikko Jenkins began the killing spree less than two weeks after he was released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence for robbery.  A three judge panel will determine if Jenkins is eligible for the death sentence.  Nebraska has put just three people to death since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld capital punishment in 1976.  The last execution was in 1997.

Heroin Use Increasing Across the U.S.: Law enforcement officials from around the country are beginning to voice concerns about the growing problem of heroin use which in many parts of the county is killing more people than violent crime and car crashes.  Kevin Johnson of USA Today reports that a surge in the availability and purity of heroin has dramatically increased  overdoses. In 2012, roughly half of New York City's 730 drug overdose fatalities were from heroin and other opiates.  That was twice the number of NYC murder victims that year.  A yet-to-be released National Drug Threat Assessment rated heroin as the second highest drug risk behind methamphetamine.  "This kind of sneaked up on us,'' said Attorney General Eric Holder, who supports reduced sentences for drug dealers.   

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