Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee paused all executions in the state through 2022 after granting a temporary reprieve for death row inmate Oscar Franklin Smith due to "technical oversight" in the lethal injection process, reports the Nashville Tennessean. Lee announced the move Monday, saying the pause will give time for a third-party review and a complete assessment over the state's execution process. “I review each death penalty case and believe it is an appropriate punishment for heinous crimes,” Lee said. “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.”
Smith's requests for an intervention ahead of his scheduled April 21 execution were denied by both Lee and the U.S. Supreme Court. Lee temporarily halted Smith's execution an hour before it was set. U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton will oversee the independent review. Three of four executions in Tennessee have been carried out by electric chair since 2019. Death row inmates are given the choice between lethal injection and the electric chair. Smith was one of five death row inmates set to be executed in Tennessee this year.