NEWS & ANALYSIS

Republican Governor Suspends All Executions in 2022, Announces Investigation into ‘Oversight’


Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced he is pausing all executions in his state for the rest of 2022 and will conduct an investigation into an “oversight” regarding the lethal injection process. 

Lee granted a last-minute delay to death row inmate Oscar Franklin Smith last week, who was scheduled to be executed April 21, Fox News reports. The state said there had been an oversight in the lethal injection process, leading to the formula only being tested for lethality and sterility, but not for endotoxins.

The governor ordered a third-party review of the lethal injection process, retaining former U.S. attorney Ed Stanton to conduct the investigation. 

“I review each death penalty case and believe it is an appropriate punishment for heinous crimes,” Lee said in a statement. “However, the death penalty is an extremely serious matter, and I expect the Tennessee Department of Correction to leave no question that procedures are correctly followed.”

Oscar Franklin Smith was one of five scheduled executions set to take place this year. In Tennessee, death row inmates have the option to request execution by electric chair rather than the default: lethal injection. Since 2019, three of four executions in Tennessee have been carried out by electric chair.

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