2 Tennessee corrections officials fired over lethal injection violations

Posted 7 days ago


The Tennessee Department of Correction has fired its longtime top attorney and another employee following a scathing independent report on failures within the state's lethal injection system.

Debbie Inglis, deputy commissioner and general counsel, and Kelly Young, the inspector general, received notices of "expiration of your executive service appointment" on Dec. 27, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests. Though officials gave no reasons for the firings, Gov. Bill Lee’s office has previously said without elaborating that two individuals were let go in connection with the report’s findings.

The firings came a day before the Republican governor publicly released the report, whose findings cited widespread failures to conduct required testing on the injection drugs under Tennessee's own rules, among other issues identified. Lee's team had been reviewing the findings since Dec. 14, when the former U. S. attorney he hired to investigate submitted the report.

Tennessee is currently assessing changes to its death penalty procedures while continuing a pause on executions pre-dating the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide, the 18 executions carried out in 2022 marked the fewest in any pre-pandemic year since 1991, with seven of last year's 20 execution attempts visibly problematic or taking an inordinate amount of time, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

And in Oklahoma, where an inmate is executed roughly every 30 days, new Attorney General Gentner Drummond said the quick pace places too much burden on prison staff and should be slowed to every 60 days.

Robert Dunham, the Death Penalty Information Center's executive director, said it's "extremely rare" that violations of execution protocols lead to outright firings of corrections officials, though more frequently officials are allowed to retire.

The notices to Inglis and Young instructed them to turn in their IDs by day's end Dec. 27 and not report for 10 paid workdays, with Jan. 10 their last official day, according to the documents.

Young's name doesn't appear in the independent report. Some names were redacted due to state secrecy laws protecting parties in death penalty roles.

The review found Tennessee hasn't complied with its own lethal injection process since revisions in 2018, resulting in several executions being conducted without proper testing of the drugs on hand — and in two cases, used to kill the inmate. Five other inmates executed since 2018 died in the electric chair. Tennessee’s rules stipulate the drugs need to be tested no matter the execution method used.... (Read more)