NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following a months-long review of the lethal injection process in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee has taken his first step in reworking the leadership structure in the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC).
On Tuesday, Gov. Lee appointed Frank Strada to serve as commissioner of TDOC.
He replaces Lisa Helton, who served as interim commissioner for one month. She will continue to work within TDOC as Assistant Commissioner for Community Supervision.
Strada comes from Arizona, where he was the Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections. There, he oversaw prison operations, inmate programs, public affairs, facilities management and financial services.
This appointment comes as the first step in Gov. Lee’s plan to restructure TDOC.
Last month, a third-party report was released, showing TDOC did not follow proper protocol when preparing lethal injections for executions in the state dating back to 2018.
The report found there was no evidence anyone ever told the pharmacy tasked with testing Tennessee’s lethal injection chemicals that it should conduct an endotoxin test on all of them. An endotoxin test is used to detect bacteria.
In response to the review, Gov. Lee released several steps he planned to take:
- 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 the new commissioner, Strada brings with him more than 30 years of experience in corrections management and law enforcement, including nearly 30 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Strada will take over his new position Monday, Jan. 9.