oscar smith

Anti-death-penalty protesters pray outside Riverbend on April 21, moments after the execution of Oscar Franklin Smith was suddenly halted

Gov. Bill Lee announced Monday that he will delay any scheduled execution until at least the end of the year to allow for an independent review of the state’s procedures, including its oversight of the chemicals used to kill inmates.

The announcement follows the abrupt and unexplained decision to delay Oscar Franklin Smith’s execution last month.

Lee says the state is retaining former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton to review the “circumstances that led to testing the lethal injection chemicals for only potency and sterility but not endotoxins” ahead of the planned Smith execution. Additionally, Stanton will review the state’s lethal injection process manual that, Lee said, was last updated in 2018. And the former federal prosecutor will also review Tennessee Department of Correction staffing levels.

“An investigation by a respected third party will ensure any operational failures at TDOC are thoroughly addressed,” says Lee. “We will pause scheduled executions through the end of 2022 in order to allow for the review and corrective action to be put in place.”

Smith’s planned execution was one of five scheduled this year.

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