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Lawyers ask Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to put moratorium on executions



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Lawyers with the Federal Public Defender’s Office are calling on Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to put a moratorium on executions within the state of Tennessee whereas additionally appointing an impartial fee to review Tennessee’s execution protocol.

Attorney Keeley J. Henry represents inmate Oscar Smith, who was scheduled to be executed final Thursday however was granted a reprieve by Governor Lee an hour earlier than the scheduled deadly injection. The governor granted the reprieve on account of “an oversight in preparation for lethal injection.”

In a letter to the governor, Henry and legal professional Amy D. Harwell wrote the next:

“We are grateful to you for stopping last week’s execution of Oscar Smith. Now, in light of ongoing irregularities with Tennessee’s execution protocol, we ask that you go further. We ask that you impose an immediate moratorium on all Tennessee executions and appoint an independent commission to review the entire Tennessee execution protocol. Such action would not only be courageous but would also be the right thing to do for the residents of this state who deserve to know that the most solemn act of government is approached with the utmost care and professionalism. It would be the right thing for the condemned and their families. It would be the right thing for victims’ family members.”

The attorneys additionally declare the Department of Correction can’t be trusted to hold out an execution with out first conducting an impartial investigation of Tennessee’s execution protocol. The governor nor TDOC have defined what precisely the oversight was that led to Smith being granted reprieve.

The letter goes on to say TDOC has skilled issues each time they used or tried to make use of the three-drug protocol for deadly injection. According to the letter, information present the execution group didn’t put together a set of backup syringes when Billy Irick was executed. Media reviews have mentioned Irick was nonetheless acutely aware when the paralytic drug was injected and pulled down the chemical veil.

In Don Johnson’s execution, the letter says information present some medicine used for the execution have been ignored of refrigeration in contravention of the compounding directions from pharmacies. Similar to Irick, reviews say Johnson was nonetheless acutely aware when the paralytic drug took over.

The letter calls Tennessee an “outlier” when utilizing the midazolam-based deadly injection protocol, which the letter labels as “risky.” States like Ohio and Arizona have moved away from the protocol after “several very public examples of its failure to anesthetize the condemned.”

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Since then, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine mentioned he wouldn’t authorize using the cocktail below his administration. Arizona additionally agreed to a consent order forbidding using the midazolam in its protocol after Joseph Wood writhed in ache for 90 minutes.

The legal professionals say within the letter that the subsequent two medicine within the protocol pose a excessive threat for torture that they’re even forbidden to make use of throughout an animal euthanasia in Tennessee and each different state.

“What we do know is that many serious and important questions about how TDOC staff and the contract pharmacy produce, store, prepare, ship, and handle these high-risk sterile injectables remain unanswered,” the attorneys wrote. “With secrecy comes lack of accountability. With secrecy comes sloppiness. And with secrecy comes a high risk of mistakes.”

The Federal Public Defender’s Office represents two of the remaining 4 males with execution dates scheduled for this 12 months. The two males are Byron Black and Donald Middlebrooks, and the workplace additionally represents greater than half of the lads at present on Tennessee’s loss of life row.

The letter says Henry has litigated issued surrounding execution protocols since 1999. She mentioned TDOC has modified its protocol each time a brand new criticism has been filed.

“Our concerns are not speculative. We have spent years educating ourselves on the process of lethal injection and our concerns about the three-drug protocol are grounded in science,” the attorneys wrote.

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The full letter may be discovered under.



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