Alabama governor says executions to resume after multiple failed injections prompted 3-month pause- QHN
Alabama will resume the executions of death row inmates, the governor said Friday, three months after multiple failed lethal injections prompted an internal review of the state’s capital punishment system.
In a letter to state Attorney General Steve Marshall, Gov. Kay Ivey called for the state’s execution proceedings to resume.
“Now it is time to resume our duty of carrying out lawful death sentences,” the Republican wrote in her letter.
In November, Ivey asked Marshall to pause executions and requested the state Department of Corrections to conduct a “top-to-bottom review of the state’s execution process” after problems with multiple lethal injections came into the national spotlight, CNN previously reported.
“Far too many Alabama families have waited for too long — often for decades — to obtain justice for the loss of a loved one and to obtain closure for themselves,” Ivey wrote in the letter. “This brief pause in executions was necessary to make sure that we can successfully deliver that justice and that closure.”
Ivey’s request on Friday comes after the Department of Corrections announced earlier in the day it had completed its review of Alabama’s capital punishment system. In a letter to the governor, Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm announced his department is prepared to carry out death sentences moving forward.
“I am writing to report that our review is now complete,” Hamm wrote.
Hamm said the department decided to add to its pool of available medical personnel for executions and it conducted multiple rehearsals to ensure the staff are well-trained and prepared to carry out their duties during the execution process.
“In addition, the Department has ordered and obtained new equipment that is now available for future executions,” Hamm said.
In his letter, Hamm also cited a change in the Supreme Court of Alabama rule for scheduling executions, at the governor’s request.
Under the new rule, established in January, the court will issue an order allowing the governor to set a “time frame” for the execution to take place, Hamm wrote. The state attorney general said the change “will make it harder for inmates to ‘run out the clock’ with last-minute appeals and requests for stays of execution.”
Previously, the court was required to issue an execution warrant scheduled on a specific date.
“As you know, this caused unnecessary deadline pressure for Department personnel as courts issued orders late into the night in response to death-row inmates’ last minute legal challenges,” he said.
In her request to halt executions in Alabama last year, Ivey asked Marshall to withdraw the state’s only two pending motions to set execution dates for two death row inmates, CNN reported.
The state faced intense scrutiny last year after problems with several executions came to light. In November, corrections officials halted the scheduled execution of prisoner Kenneth Smith, citing time constraints caused by a late-night court battle.
In another case, Joe Nathan James Jr. was executed in July for the 1994 murder of Faith Hall Smith, despite pleas from the victim’s family not to do so. That execution is now considered “botched” by the Death Penalty Information Center.
Ivey said in November she does not believe Department of Corrections officials or law enforcement are at fault for recent problems, but that “legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here.”
There are currently 166 inmates on Alabama’s death row, according to the Department of Corrections website.
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