After an unprecedented third failed lethal injection last Thursday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey sought on Monday a pause in executions, ordering a “top-to-bottom” review of Alabama’s capital punishment system.
According to the statement issued by Ivey’s office, she had both asked the Department of Corrections to undertake a full review of the state’s execution process and requested that Alabama AG Steve Marshall withdraws motions seeking execution dates for two inmates.
Ivey also requested that until the review is complete, the Attorney General does not seek additional execution dates for any other death row inmates.
The governor’s decision comes in light of Thursday’s uncompleted execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith, which was the second such instance of Alabama being unable to put an inmate to death in the past two months and the third since 2018.
Back in July, the state completed the execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. after a three-hour delay caused – at least partly- by the same problem with starting an IV line, which led the anti-death-penalty group Reprieve US Forensic Justice Initiative to claim the execution was botched.
Although prison officials have maintained the delays were the result of the state carefully following procedures, Alabama called off the scheduled execution of Alan Eugene Miller in September due to, as Miller said in a court filing, difficulty accessing his veins that led him to undergo more than an hour-long poking with needles by prison staff which, at one point, left him hanging vertically on a gurney before announcing they were stopping.
Gov. Ivey, however, denied that prison staff or law enforcement are to blame for the problems, citing instead legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system.
While AG Marshall didn’t immediately say whether he would agree to Ivey’s request, Corrections Commissioner John Hamm emphasized that his department is fully committed to the review.
Alabama Arise, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of the poor, said Marshall should agree to a moratorium and urged legislators to “do their part to reduce the unfairness of Alabama’s death penalty system.”