KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Death row inmates in Tennessee can die one of two ways: lethal injection or the electric chair.
"You're choosing two really rough options, and I guess you wanna choose the one that's gonna be successful most of the time," said attorney T. Scott Jones.
Stephen West, a death row inmate from Union County, will be put to death by electrocution Thursday at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
West was sentenced to death in 1987 for the tortures, sexual assaults and stabbing deaths of Wanda and Sheila Romines.
He originally declined to choose a method of execution, but he chose the electric chair while on death watch the day before.
Controversy surrounds lethal injection because inmates question if it is actually painless.
The electric chair is outlawed in several states.
Begging the question, which is the 'better' way to die?
"I don't think there's anyone alive who can answer that question," said Gary Wade, former Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
It is rare that an inmate would wait so close to their execution date to make a choice of execution method.
"I could understand why that person may choose something equally horrific, but maybe a bit more certain," said attorney Stephen Ross Johnson.
The argument is the electric chair kills faster than lethal injection, which has failed in some instances across the country.
"In the past century, 7% of lethal injection executions have failed whereas only 2% of electrocutions have," said Jones.
Every case is different.
In the past year, WBIR journalists have witnessed two death row inmates die.
One, by lethal injection.
"There was one moment where he kind of jerked up early as the drug was taking effect," said WBIR journalist John North regarding the lethal injection execution of Billy Ray Irick. "That was kind of it in terms of quivering, you know his belly rose, but I didn't see shoulder shaking or feet shaking, I didn't see any of that."
The other, by electrocution.
"He went kind of, jolted up, all of his muscles looked like he clenched, and then a couple seconds later would come down and that happened twice," said former WBIR journalist Marc Sallinger regarding the electric chair execution of David Earl Miller.
Those were both considered successful executions.
Wade, Jones and Johnson have seen death penalty sentences be handed down.
They say for some victims they've worked with, the death penalty is not harsh enough.
"Life in prison can be worse than death," said Johnson. "You're still getting the death penalty, you're just dying in prison."
Death row inmates sentenced after January 1, 1999, will be put to death by lethal injection and not given a choice in execution methods.
West's choice will not delay his death Thursday.
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