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Tennessee governor has halted executions for an independent review of lethal injections following a last-minute postponement of an operation

“Questions about preparing for lethal injection test … resulted in a temporary suspension of the governor,” Lee’s office said in a news release Monday. When Lee issued the order, he only tweeted that it was prompted by an “oversight in preparation for lethal injection.”

Now, Tennessee will keep former U.S. attorney Ed Stanton to review, according to Lee’s office:

• “Circumstances that led to testing of the lethal injection chemicals for strength and sterility only, but not endotoxins, in preparation for the April 21 execution”;

• “Clarity in the manual for the lethal injection process, last updated in 2018, and compliance with test policies since the update”;

• Tennessee Department of Correction “staffing considerations.”

“An investigation conducted by a respected third party will ensure that any operational errors at TDOC are thoroughly rectified,” the governor said in the announcement. “We will pause planned executions until the end of 2022 to enable the review and corrective action to be taken.”

Smith, the oldest person on the Tennessee death row, would have been the first to be executed in the state since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I review every death sentence and believe it is an appropriate punishment for heinous crimes,” Lee said Monday. “However, the death penalty is an extremely serious matter and I expect the Tennessee Department of Correction to leave no doubt that the procedures are being followed properly.”

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