State executions will be put on hold for the rest of this year.
This is so an investigation can be done into how the state uses lethal injections. This is what Tennessee GOP Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement on Monday.
BREAKING: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee pauses all executions in the state through the end of the year for an independent review of the state’s lethal injection protocol. The move follows the last-minute reprieve Lee gave to Oscar Franklin Smith after an “oversight” in the process.
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) May 2, 2022
The state’s checking of lethal injection chemicals, as well as its compliance with the lethal injection procedure, will be the subject of an independent inquiry headed by former U.S. attorney Ed Stanton.
An “oversight” forced the state to postpone the implementation of Oscar Smith last month, prompting the state to launch an investigation into the matter.
A statement from Lee said, “I carefully consider each death sentence case and feel that it is a fitting punishment for grave crimes.”
“However, the death penalty is a highly serious subject. I trust the Tennessee Department of Corrections to make sure all protocols are followed to the letter.”
It was not reported at the time, but Smith’s counsel thought at least two of the three execution medications had been compounded, rather than commercially made, prior to Smith’s lethal injection death.
When it comes to Smith’s scheduled execution on April 21, the independent investigation will look at what led to the analysis of the lethal injection drugs’ effectiveness and sterility.
It will not look at their endotoxins prior to the date set for the execution to take place.
Failures and Oversights
It was reported that federal public attorney Kelley Henry warned, according to the Associated Press, that use of compounded medications in the context of “killer injections” is extremely dangerous.
“The failure to check for endotoxins is a breach of the procedure,” says the investigator.
Tennessee has paused all executions in the state through the end of the year after a "technical oversight" in the lethal injection process led to a final-hour reprieve for a death row inmate last month. https://t.co/S18BsMrwRb
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 2, 2022
Before Smith was executed, Smith’s counsel petitioned the governor to order a moratorium on executions until an impartial inquiry was conducted.
“Great leadership,” Henry said of the Republican governor’s actions on Monday, in which he expressed his appreciation.
According to Henry, “Governor Lee did the correct thing by suspending executions due to this infraction.”
In addition to Smith’s execution, the Tennessee Supreme Court has ordered that four other executions slated for this year be delayed while the review is underway.
To put criminals to death via lethal injection, the state of Tennessee now employs a three-drug regimen.
The electric chair has been used in three of the four killings in the state since the beginning of 2019.
Inmates on death row have the option of requesting the electric chair rather than the standard lethal injection technique.
As good as the review might be, the dangers and effects of the lethal injection procedures serve as a warning to all citizens of the great nation that crime simply does not pay.
However, we’ll still have to wait for the final decision on the issue.