State Watch

Alabama governor orders review after latest failed lethal injection

(AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey visits for homecoming festivities during the first half of an NCAA college football game between Alabama and Arkansas, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Oct. 26, 2019.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has ordered a “top-to-bottom review of execution protocol” in the state and asked for a temporary pause in executions following a third failed lethal injection attempt within the last four years. 

Ivey’s order follows the aborted execution Thursday of Kenneth Eugene Smith after state officials couldn’t find a suitable vein to inject the lethal drugs. 

It marked the second time in the past two months that the state has failed to carry out plans to put an inmate to death, and the third time since 2018. Additionally, the state delayed an ultimately successful execution for three hours early this year amid complications. 

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right,” Ivey said in a statement. “I simply cannot, in good conscience, bring another victim’s family to Holman looking for justice and closure, until I am confident that we can carry out the legal sentence.” 

The Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., is the site of the state’s lethal injection center. 

Ivey said she is working in conjunction with Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm to “ensure the state can successfully deliver justice going forward.” 

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

Ivey has also requested that state Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) wait for the review to be completed before seeking any new execution dates for inmates on death row. 

Currently only two inmates on death row in the state have execution dates pending. The Associated Press reported that Marshall has yet to comment on whether he would honor Ivey’s request.   

Ivey dismissed criticism that the the Department of Corrections was to blame for the issues. 

“I believe that legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here,” she said in a statement.

Robert Dunham, executive director of The Death Penalty Information Center, told the AP the investigation should be carried out by an independent third party. 

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

However, Hamm said that he was confident his department was “fully committed to this effort and confident that we can get this done right.”

Tags Alabama Executions Kay Ivey Kay Ivey Steve Marshall

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