Ala. governor orders moratorium on executions

The order comes after two failed attempts at lethal injections, calling for a "top-to-bottom" review of the process

By Ivana Hrynkiw

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered a halt to executions in the state after two failed attempts at lethal injections, calling for a “top-to-bottom” review of the process.

The announcement came in the form of a press release sent Monday morning. According to the press release, the governor asked Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw the state’s two pending motions in the Alabama Supreme Court to set executions for Alan Eugene Miller and James Edward Barber.

“Working in conjunction with Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm, Governor Ivey is asking that the Department of Corrections undertake a top-to-bottom review of the state’s execution process, and how to ensure the state can successfully deliver justice going forward,” the press release stated.

Ivey also asked the Alabama AG’s office to not seek additional execution dates for any other Alabama Death Row inmates until the review is complete. No timeline was provided.

A spokesperson for the Alabama AG’s office said Marshall will ”have more to say on this at a later date.”

Miller was set to be executed on Sept. 22, but survived after prison workers couldn’t find a vein to start the intravenous line needed for the three-drug lethal injection cocktail before the death warrant expired at midnight. Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was set to die Nov. 17, experienced a similar situation and also survived after officials couldn’t start an IV.

A federal judge has ordered the ADOC must preserve evidence from both failed execution attempts.

[EARLIER: Ala. calls off execution after difficulties inserting IV]

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right. I don’t buy for a second the narrative being pushed by activists that these issues are the fault of the folks at Corrections or anyone in law enforcement, for that matter. I believe that legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here,” Ivey said in the statement.

“I will commit all necessary support and resources to the Department to ensure those guilty of perpetrating the most heinous crimes in our society receive their just punishment. 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.”

Hamm also made a statement, which was sent alongside the governor’s.

“I agree with Governor Ivey that we have to get this right for the victims’ sake. Everything is on the table – 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. The Alabama Department of Corrections is fully committed to this effort and confident that we can get this done right.”

Three other states have governor imposed moratoriums on executions, but like Alabama have not abolished the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The federal government also instituted a moratorium on executions last year pending a review.

DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham praised the governor for her decision. “Gov. Ivey should be praised for at least admitting there is a problem,” he said.

[EARLIER: Ala. halts inmate's execution because of time, IV access concerns]

But, he called her categorized her comments on “legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system” as “nonsense.” He also said that while an investigation is necessary, that review needs to be conducted independently.

“Other (departments of corrections) have demonstrated an inability to properly to properly carry out executions. But Alabama is unique in its level of incompetence in setting execution IV lines.”

“Other states haven’t poked and prodded prisoners for more than two hours over and over and over again. And, lawyers for death row prisoners have been attempting to enforce the Constitution in those cases too. Unless and until Alabama is willing to admit the truth, look itself in the eye, and undertake meaningful reforms, it should not be carrying out executions.”

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