Home USA News Alabama suspends executions after third botched lethal injection

Alabama suspends executions after third botched lethal injection

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called for a moratorium on executions and ordered a “top-to-bottom” overhaul of the state’s death penalty system Monday after an unprecedented third botched lethal injection.

Ivey’s office released a statement saying she asked Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw requests to set sentencing dates for the two inmates and asked the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of the state’s corrections process.

Ivey also asked Marshall not to seek additional execution dates for other death row inmates until the review is complete.

The move follows Thursday’s pending execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith, the state’s second failure to execute an inmate in the past two months and the third since 2018. The state completed the execution in July, but only after a three-hour delay caused at least in part by the same problem with starting the IV line.

Denying that prison officials or law enforcement were to blame for the problems, Ivey said “there are legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system.”

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we have to get this right,” she said.


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Corrections Commissioner John Humm said the department is fully committed to the review and “is confident we can get it right.”

“Everything is on the table, from our legal strategy for dealing with last-minute appeals, to how we train and prepare, to the order and timing of execution day events, to the personnel and equipment involved,” Humm said. in a published statement. through the governorship.

Marshall “read the governor’s and commissioner’s comments with interest” and “will have more to say at a later date,” said Mike Lewis, a spokesman for the attorney general.

The Death Penalty Information Center, an anti-death penalty group with a large database of executions, said no state other than Alabama has had to halt an execution since 2017, when Ohio halted Alva Campbell’s lethal injection because the workers could not find the vein.

The organization’s executive director, Robert Dunham, said Ivey was right to seek an investigation and a pause, but any review of the system should be done by someone other than the state’s prison system. While Ivey blamed the defense’s efforts for enforcement failures, Dunham said her “willful blindness” to the prison system’s ills was part of the problem.

“The Alabama Department of Corrections has a history of denying and misrepresenting the truth about its enforcement failures and cannot be trusted to thoroughly investigate its own incompetence and wrongdoing,” he said.

Earlier this year, after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee halted the lethal injection in April because he learned the drugs had not been properly tested, he ordered an independent investigation and suspended all executions until the end of the year.

The execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. in Alabama took several hours in July because of problems setting up an IV line. The leading anti-death penalty group Reprieve US Forensic Justice Initiative said the execution was a failure.

In September, the state canceled Alan Miller’s planned execution because of difficulties accessing his veins. Miller said in a court filing that jail officials jabbed him with needles for more than an hour and at one point left him hanging upright on a gurney before announcing they were stopping. Prison officials say the delays were the result of the state diligently following procedures.

Alabama overturned Doyle Hamm’s execution in 2018 due to problems with IV connections. Hamm had damaged veins from lymphoma, hepatitis and past drug use, his attorney said. Hamm later died in prison of natural causes.

Ivey asked the state to withdraw petitions to set execution dates for Miller and James Edward Barber, the only two death row inmates who have made such requests to the Alabama Supreme Court.

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