Another Tennessee man was executed by electric chair last week. Lee Hall, 53, who was convicted of burning his girlfriend Traci Crozier to death in 1992, was the fourth inmate to die by electrocution since the state resumed capital punishment in 2018.
Hall's was the third execution in Tennessee this year and the sixth since August 2018. Prior to that, there had been no executions in the state since December 2009.
Hall's attorneys asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to stay the execution until after an ongoing appeal. The court denied the request.
- Hall: “I think people can learn forigivness and love.”
Hall was moved to death watch the Tuesday before Thursday's scheduled execution. What is death watch? It's a three-day period before the execution when strict guidelines and tighter security measures are placed on the inmate to be executed.
The inmate is held in a cell adjacent to the execution chamber where they are under 24-hour observation by correctional officers. The 8-by-10-square-foot cell contains nothing but a metal-framed bed, a metal desk with a metal stool attached, a metal shelf, a toilet, sink, and shower.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee released a statement last Wednesday supporting the execution and saying that he would not intervene.
"The justice system has extensively reviewed Lee Hall's case over the course of almost 30 years, including additional review and rulings by the Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday and today," Lee said. "The judgement and sentence stand based on these rulings, and I will not intervene in this case."
Just City, a group that seeks to lessen the impact of the criminal justice system on individuals in Shelby County, believes "the death penalty is the ultimate example of how arbitrary, unfair, and inhumane our criminal legal system can be."
"In fact, many states are moving away from it completely," reads a statement from Just City. "Unfortunately, Tennessee is moving in the opposite direction and has inexplicably carried out an unprecedented number of executions over the last year and a half. The state shows no sign of slowing down."
Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a group that wants to abolish the death penalty in the state, held vigils for Hall across the state, including one here at Idlewild Presbyterian Church.
Currently on death row in Tennessee, there are 54 offenders waiting to be executed. Nearly half, or 25, of those inmates are from Shelby County. Thirteen inmates are from the state's other three largest counties. There is only one woman on death row: Christa Pike from Knox County. Pike, 43, was convicted of first degree murder in 1996.
While Tennessee government officials are accelerating executions, the federal government has halted executions for the last 16 years. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a preliminary injunction prohibiting the government from carrying out five planned executions. The injunction was entered in a lawsuit challenging the legality and constitutionality of the government's lethal injection protocol.
Christian activist Shane Claiborne tweeted that Hall's last words were, "I think people can learn forgiveness and love and make the world a better place. That's all I have to say."