(a) In all cases in which the sentence of death has been passed upon any person by the courts of this state, it is the duty of the sheriff of the county in which the sentence of death has been passed to remove the person so sentenced to death from that county to the state penitentiary in which the death chamber is located, within a reasonable time before the date fixed for the execution of the death sentence in the judgment and mandate of the court pronouncing the death sentence. On the date fixed for the execution in the judgment and mandate of the court, the warden of the state penitentiary in which the death chamber is located shall cause the death sentence to be carried out within an enclosure to be prepared for that purpose in strict seclusion and privacy. The only witnesses entitled to be present at the carrying out of the death sentence are:
(1) The warden of the state penitentiary or the warden’s duly authorized deputy;
(2) The sheriff of the county in which the crime was committed;
(3) A priest or minister of the gospel who has been preparing the condemned person for death;
(4) The prison physician;
(5) Attendants chosen and selected by the warden of the state penitentiary as may be necessary to properly carry out the execution of the death sentence;
(6) A total of seven (7) members of the print, radio and television news media selected in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the department of correction. Those news media members allowed to attend any execution of a sentence of death shall make available coverage of the execution to other news media members not selected to attend;
(7) Immediate family members of the victim who are eighteen (18) years of age or older. Immediate family members shall include the spouse, child by birth or adoption, stepchild, stepparent, parent, grandparent or sibling of the victim; provided, that members of the family of the condemned prisoner may be present and witness the execution;
(8) One (1) defense counsel chosen by the condemned person; and
(9) The attorney general and reporter, or the attorney general and reporter’s designee.
(b) No other person or persons than those mentioned in subsection (a) are allowed or permitted to be present at the carrying out of the death sentence. It is a Class C misdemeanor for the warden of the state penitentiary to permit any other person or persons than those provided for in subsection (a) to be present at the legal execution.
(c) (1) Photographic or recording equipment shall not be permitted at the execution site until the execution is completed, the body is removed, and the site has been restored to an orderly condition. However, the physical arrangement of the execution site shall not be disturbed.
(2) A violation of subdivision (c)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor.
(3) The department shall promulgate rules that establish criteria for the selection of news media representatives to attend an execution of a death sentence in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5. In promulgating the rules, the department shall solicit recommendations from the Tennessee Press Association, the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors, and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters. For each execution of a death sentence, applications for attendance shall be accepted by the department. When the number of applications require, lots to select news media representatives will then be drawn by the warden of the state penitentiary at which the death sentence is to be carried out. All drawings shall be conducted in open meetings and notice shall be properly given in accordance with § 4-5-203.
(d) If the immediate family members of the victim choose to be present at the execution, they shall be allowed to witness the execution from an area that is separate from the area to which other witnesses are admitted. If facilities are not available to provide immediate family members with a direct view of the execution, the warden of the state penitentiary may broadcast the execution by means of a closed circuit television system to the area in which the immediate family members are located.
[Acts 1909, ch. 500, § 1; Shan., § 7253a1; Code 1932, § 11859; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 40-3119; Acts 1985 (1st E.S.), ch. 5, § 16; 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 1994, ch. 675, §§ 1-3; 1997, ch. 133, §§ 1, 2; 2000, ch. 744, § 1.]