Gov. Lee Announces Decisive Action to Ensure Proper Protocol at TDOC
Publicly releases third-party report from months-long independent review
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Following a months-long third-party review of lethal injection operations at the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), Tennessee Governor Bill Lee this week announced several decisive actions to ensure the department adheres to established protocol. Additionally, the Governor proactively released the independent investigator’s third-party report to the public.
“I have thoroughly reviewed the findings in the independent investigator’s report and am directing several actions to ensure the Tennessee Department of Correction adheres to proper protocol,” said Gov. Lee. “We are proactively sharing both the third-party report and my administration’s next steps to ensure continued transparency for the people of Tennessee.”
On May 2, 2022, Tennessee retained former U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton to conduct an independent review and recommend corrective actions, following an oversight in adhering to the TDOC lethal injection protocol. After completing the independent investigation, Stanton delivered the third-party report to the Governor’s office on December 14, 2022. All legally-required redactions were applied by the independent investigator prior to the report’s delivery. The third-party report is publicly-available here.
After an internal assessment of the third-party report, Gov. Lee has directed several proactive steps to ensure TDOC adheres to established protocol, which will occur in the following sequence:
- Make staffing changes at the department’s leadership level.
- Hire and onboard a permanent TDOC commissioner in January 2023.
- New department leadership will revise the state’s lethal injection protocol, in consultation with the Governor’s office and the Tennessee Attorney General’s office.
- New department leadership will review all training associated with the revised protocol and make appropriate operational updates.
As previously planned, Interim Commissioner Lisa Helton will remain in the role until a permanent commissioner is announced in January 2023. At that time, Helton will continue serving the department as Assistant Commissioner for Community Supervision.
Gov. Lee added, “I commend Interim Commissioner Helton for her steady leadership, which has been particularly important during this time of change and transition at the department, and we are deeply grateful for her continued public service to our state.”
Upon launching the independent investigation in May, Lee issued temporary reprieves for five executions scheduled to take place in 2022. The Tennessee Supreme Court will be responsible for setting new execution dates after the Governor’s reprieves expire. Currently, Tennessee has no scheduled executions in 2023.