Expert questions Gov. Ivey’s call for more time to carry out state executions

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:37 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey proposed changes to Alabama’s execution protocol. She’s asking the state Supreme Court to extend the window for a death warrant to be carried out. But death penalty experts say that will only solve part of the problems.

Robert Dunham oversees the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit that analyzes death penalty issues across the country.

“The amount of time that is allotted to carry out an execution has got nothing to do with the competence of the team that carries it out,” said Dunham.

Last month, Ivey ordered a top-to-bottom review of the execution process. Two recent executions had to be called off either because of last-minute legal challenges or trouble establishing an IV line.

“I don’t think anybody of conscience wants prisoners to be tortured to death,” said Dunham.

Dunham said the investigation itself should be questioned.

“If you have a system that’s secretive, and you have a review that is not transparent, then it doesn’t do a lot to restore public confidence,” said Dunham.

The ACLU of Alabama ”urges the state to shift this review to an independent third party to ensure a transparent and thorough process.” But there is no estimate on how long the process will take.

“It depends in part on how serious the investigation is, how seriously the Department of Corrections responds to the suggestions, and how serious and extensive the problems actually are,” said Dunham. “We don’t know most of that right now.”

Ivey has not been available for comment since her most recent update on this process but in the past has said that she will “commit all necessary support and resources to the [Alabama Department of Corrections] to ensure those guilty of perpetrating the most heinous crimes in our society receive their just punishment.”

In Monday’s press release Ivey asked that the state supreme court “move expeditiously as prudent given the importance of this rule change to the administration of justice in our State. Every day that goes by without this important amendment is another day that a capital murder victim’s family must wait to obtain justice.”

When WSFA spoke with the governor about Dunham’s comments, she said there’s no secrecy involved in the review process. She added they are looking into new medical personnel.

“I know they’ve gotten some additional medical personnel on board to either participate or give advice, etc. So that’s certainly a concern and they’re working on it,” said Ivey.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from Gov. Kay Ivey.

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