Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey asked the attorney general of Alabama to suspend executions. She also requested a top-to-bottom review of the capital punishment system in the state after multiple failed lethal injections.
“Ivey asked Attorney General Steve Marshall Monday to withdraw the state’s two pending motions for setting execution dates in the case of Alan Eugene Miller, and James Edward Barber,” the Republican governor’s office stated in a statement.
Ivey wants “the (Alabama] Department of Corrections undertake a top-to-bottom assessment of the state’s execution processes, and how the state can effectively deliver justice going forward,” according to the release.
This request comes at a time when executions in Alabama have been repeatedly in the national spotlight. Last week was the last, when corrections officials in Alabama stopped the execution of Kenneth Smith, citing the late-night court battle and time constraints. Already the state was under intense scrutiny after the execution of Joe Nathan James. The Death Penalty Information Center considers it a ‘botched execution’.
Officials said that Miller’s execution was delayed in September because he failed to comply with protocols by midnight. Miller’s execution was delayed by a long court battle, which eventually led to the US Supreme Court.
Ivey stated in the statement that she would fully support the Department of Corrections review. She added: “I simply can’t, in good conscience bring another victim’s family to (the William C. Holman Correctional Facility), looking for justice, closure, until I’m confident that we can carry out the legal sentence.”
According to the governor, she doesn’t believe that law enforcement or Department of Corrections officers are responsible for recent problems. However, she said that legal tactics and criminals are involved in hijacking the system.
John Hamm, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, stated in the statement that his agency was “fully committed to this effort” and that it is confident that it can accomplish this task.
Although Ivey was praised by the Death Penalty Information Center for her actions on the issue, they stressed that the review was not independent.
Robert Dunham, executive director of the center, stated that the Alabama Department of Corrections had a history of delaying and twisting the truth about execution failures. He also said that it could not be trusted to investigate its incompetence or wrongdoings.