Tennessee Gov Forced To Pause All Executions Because Lethal Drugs Weren’t Tested Properly

The world increasingly sounds like a dystopian film of the 1980’s imagining the 21st century…ah…. so i should actually be so surprised by this!


Gov. Bill Lee has paused all executions in Tennessee through the end of 2022 after granting a temporary reprieve for death row inmate Oscar Franklin Smith last month due to a “technical oversight” in the lethal injection. 

Lee announced the move in a news release early Monday morning, saying the pause will give time for a third-party review and a complete assessment. Lee’s office has declined to answer multiple questions about the nature of the oversight.

“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.”

Lee told reporters Monday afternoon he learned of the issues with the lethal injection medication on the day of the execution.

“It’s very important to me that every process is followed,” he said. “We need an independent investigation.”

Former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton will oversee the independent review for Tennessee, Lee announced.

Smith’s requests for an intervention ahead of his scheduled execution were denied by both Lee and the U.S. Supreme Court. Lee temporarily paused Smith’s execution approximately an hour before it was set, citing the “oversight” in the lethal injection preparation.

Lee’s office said Stanton will review the following:

  • What led to testing the lethal injection chemicals for only potency and sterility but not endotoxins, a sign of bacteria in the compound, ahead of the April 21 execution;
  • Clarity around the lethal injection process manual, which was last updated in 2018, and adherence to testing policies since the update;
  • TDOC staffing considerations.