NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A third-party investigation will suspend scheduled executions in Tennessee for the rest of the year, according to an announcement from Gov. Bill Lee Monday.

“An investigation by a respected third party will ensure any operational failures at TDOC are thoroughly addressed,” said 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.”

This will entail a third-party review of the lethal injection testing oversight that resulted in a temporary reprieve for death row inmate Oscar Franklin Smith.

“I review each death penalty case and believe it is an appropriate punishment for heinous crimes,” said Lee. “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.”

Questions surrounding the lethal injection testing preparation for the April 21 execution resulted in a temporary reprieve by the governor just before Smith’s execution was scheduled to take place.

According to a release, Tennessee will retain former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton to conduct an independent review of the following:

  • Circumstances that led to testing the lethal injection chemicals for only potency and sterility but not endotoxins preparing for the April 21 execution
  • Clarity of the lethal injection process manual that was last updated in 2018, and adherence to testing policies since the update
  • TDOC staffing considerations