Ivey: Alabama will resume executions after four-month review

Governor Kay Ivey proposed changes to Alabama’s execution protocol. She’s asking the state...
Governor 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.(N/A)
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 4:51 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Executions will again start in Alabama after a four-month review of the state execution protocol.

Death-row inmate James Barber could be the first to be executed. ADOC Commissioner John Hamm shared the findings of the review in a letter addressed to Governor Kay Ivey.

A large problem with the executions was establishing a vein line for lethal injection. There were four main updates to the state execution protocol:

  • Extending the allotted timeframe for the state to complete executions from a single-day execution warrant. Commissioner Hamm says the extension will make it harder for inmates to “run out the clock” with last-minute appeals.
  • ADOC will hire new outside medical personnel for executions.
  • ADOC has “ordered and obtained” new equipment that is available to use in future executions
  • The Department had “multiple rehearsals” of the execution process in recent months

ADOC said they have no statement in addition to the letter provided by Commissioner Hamm. There are many unanswered questions and concerns, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

“It’s hard to judge because there’s not a lot there other than, you know, two brief letters, one from the governor, one from the commissioner of corrections that say, ‘trust us, we did everything.’ And it’s all fine,” said Dieter. “There’s no indication, at least what I was able to read in these two documents, of what was changed.”

There is also concern about the swiftness of this review.

“When the governor announced a moratorium on executions last year, we believed her when she said that the state would conduct a thorough investigation of the Alabama Department of Correction’s execution protocols before resuming,” said JaTaune Bosby Gilchrist, ACLU of Alabama’s executive director. “Unfortunately, the governor refused to follow the lead of her Republican colleagues in other states and order an independent review. Throughout this process, we have argued that it is unreasonable to believe that the agency responsible for botching multiple executions can thoroughly investigate itself and suggest remedies to correct its own behavior. Today’s announcement that ADOC’s investigation is complete is troubling and proves our worst concerns. It is irresponsible to believe that the state-sponsored torture of individuals would end if given more time and practice.”

Ivey addressed a letter to Attorney General Steve Marshall requesting him to “ask the Supreme Court to issue an execution warrant for an eligible death row inmate.” Marshall filed an execution warrant for death-row inmate James Barber and issued the following statement:

“I am pleased that Governor Ivey and the Department of Corrections have completed their review of their execution processes and feel confident that the travesty of justice that occurred in November of last year will not be repeated. As I have made clear, I and my office have remained fully committed to and capable of carrying out capital punishment in Alabama. Accordingly, my office immediately filed a motion today with the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for death-row inmate James Barber, and we will be seeking death warrants for other murderers in short order. In Alabama, we recognize that there are crimes so heinous, atrocious, and cruel, so exceptionally deprave, that the only just punishment is death. Those on death row—as well as their victims—can be certain that I and my office will always do our part to ensure that they receive that just punishment.”

Mike Nicholson, a policy analyst with Alabama Arise, hopes there is legislative action to further address the state’s execution protocol.

“We also recommend making the judicial override bill that Governor Ivey signed in 2017 retroactive,” said Nicholson. “Alabama is the only state that doesn’t provide funding for those processes. Every other state that has the death penalty provides some sort of funds set up so that folks on death row can appeal.”

HB 14 requires a unanimous vote from jurors to impose the death penalty.

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