TN inmate set to be executed this week moved to death watch


Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 8:48 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2022 at 8:51 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Tennessee Department of Correction placed a man set to be executed this week on “death watch” late Monday night.

Oscar Franklin Smith was convicted of murder in the 1989 triple slayings of his estranged wife Judith Lynn Robirds Smith and her two sons from a previous marriage, Chad and Jason Burnett, in Nashville. He was sentenced to death for all three killings.

“After thorough consideration of Oscar Smith’s request for clemency and an extensive review of the case, the State of Tennessee’s sentence will stand, and I will not be intervening,” Governor Lee said in a statement.

The three-day “death watch” includes strict guidelines “to maintain the security and control of the offender and to maintain safe and orderly operations of the prison,” the Tennessee Department of Correction stated. Officials have moved Smith to a cell near the execution chamber and a team of correctional officers watches 24 hours per day.

Smith is granted the following during this time:

  • Regular meals. The offender can request, within reason, a special meal on the final day before the execution
  • Legal materials he or she requests
  • Clean laundry as needed
  • Appropriate clothing for the mortician if clothing is not provided by family
  • Mail privileges, except for packages
  • A telephone outside the cell to make personal or legal calls (warden approves personal calls)

Smith is only allowed the following items in his cell:

  • Hygiene items such as a tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush, a bar of soap and toilet tissue
  • Stationery (12 sheets), 3 stamped envelopes and one pencil that will be in the possession of a correctional officer when not in use
  • One set of clothing and one set of undergarments
  • Religious materials issued by the chaplain
  • Legal documents as requested
  • One television outside the cell
  • Medication prescribed by the facility’s physician and issued and used under direct supervision only
  • Not more than one requested newspaper at a time in the cell

The Tennessee Department of Correction stated that Smith can only receive visitors, who are on the offender’s official visitation list while on death watch.

“All visits are non-contact until the final day before the execution at which time the warden decides if the offender can have a contact visit,” Tennessee Department of Correction said.

On Sunday, opponents of the death penalty rallied in downtown Nashville to protest the execution of Smith. The march included members from several churches, former death row prisoners, and numerous others. The march started at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison Institution and ended at the Legislative Plaza. Participants walked for three hours.

Smith’s execution scheduled for Thursday would mark the return of executions in the state after they were put on hold after a governor-imposed moratorium due to COVID-19.

For more on death watch in Tennessee, click here.

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