Faith leaders urge independent review of Alabama executions

Feb 7, 2023, 2:21 AM | Updated: 4:46 pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — More than 170 pastors and other faith leaders on Tuesday urged Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to authorize an independent review of execution procedures, as Oklahoma and Tennessee did after a series of failed lethal injections in those states.

The group applauded Ivey for taking the “bold and necessary step” of ordering a review of Alabama execution procedures following problems locating intravenous lines during three lethal injections, but said that review should be done by those outside the state prison system. Ivey in November ordered the Alabama Department of Corrections, which carries out executions, to undertake the review.

“Given the gravity of what has transpired, we respectfully request a comprehensive, independent, and external review of Alabama’s death penalty procedures,” they wrote in a letter delivered to Ivey’s Alabama Capitol Office on Tuesday.

The faith leaders said the review should be conducted openly — and by a person or group other than the Alabama Department of Corrections. “The fact of the matter is that an agency that has failed repeatedly to get its own house in order cannot be trusted to privately conduct an investigation into problems it is causing,” they wrote.

The group cited the example of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who authorized a state review after acknowledging that the state failed to ensure its lethal injection drugs were properly tested. A former U.S. attorney conducted the review. It found Tennessee had not complied with its own lethal injection process ever since it was revised in 2018, resulting in several executions that were conducted without proper testing of the drugs used.

A review was also conducted in Oklahoma after the 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett. After the first drug was administered, Lockett struggled on a gurney for 43 minutes before he was declared dead. The review was conducted by a separate state agency from the prison system. It was later learned that members of the execution team had improperly inserted an IV into a vein in Lockett’s groin.

The independent Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission also scrutinized state procedures.

Ivey cited concerns for the victims and their families in ordering the review in Alabama. “For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right,” Ivey said.

Carrying out an execution is the state’s responsibility to uphold the law and to ensuring justice, Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola wrote in a statement. “This is a responsibility Governor Ivey takes very seriously, and as she has made very clear along the way, this will review remain transparent as is appropriate, while also protecting sensitive information,” she continued.

The Alabama review has so far yielded changes to make it easier to carry out death sentences. At Ivey’s request, the Alabama Supreme Court gave the state a longer amount of time to carry out executions by allowing death warrants authorizing an execution to last for more than 24 hours.

Ivey announced the pause on executions after a third failed lethal injection in the state. The state called off the November execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith after failing to get an intravenous line connected within the 100-minute window between when courts cleared the way for it to begin and the death warrant’s midnight deadline expired.

In September the state called off the scheduled execution of Alan Miller because of difficulty accessing his veins. Alabama in 2018 called off the execution of Doyle Hamm because of problems getting the intravenous line connected. Hamm had damaged veins because of lymphoma, hepatitis and past drug use, his lawyer said.

The state completed an execution in July, but only after a three-hour delay caused at least partly by the same problem with starting an IV line.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Google’s artificially intelligent ‘Bard’ set for next stage

Google announced Tuesday it's allowing more people to interact with “ Bard,” the artificially intelligent chatbot the company is building to counter Microsoft's early lead in a pivotal battleground of technology.
16 hours ago
Evelyn Knapp, a supporter of former President Donald, waves to passersby outside of Trump's Mar-a-L...
Associated Press

Trump legal woes force another moment of choosing for GOP

From the moment he rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his first presidential campaign, a searing question has hung over the Republican Party: Is this the moment to break from Donald Trump?
2 days ago
FILE - The Silicon Valley Bank logo is seen at an open branch in Pasadena, Calif., on March 13, 202...
Associated Press

Army of lobbyists helped water down banking regulations

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Red-state Democrats facing grim reelection prospects would join forces with Republicans to slash bank regulations — demonstrating a willingness to work with President Donald Trump while bucking many in their party.
2 days ago
FILE - This Sept. 2015, photo provided by NOAA Fisheries shows an aerial view of adult female South...
Associated Press

Researchers: Inbreeding a big problem for endangered orcas

People have taken many steps in recent decades to help the Pacific Northwest's endangered killer whales, which have long suffered from starvation, pollution and the legacy of having many of their number captured for display in marine parks.
3 days ago
FILE - Hiring signs are displayed at a grocery store in Arlington Heights, Ill., Jan. 13, 2023. Emp...
Associated Press

Pay transparency is spreading. Here’s what you need to know

U.S. employers are increasingly posting salary ranges for job openings, even in states where it’s not required by law, according to analysts with several major job search websites.
3 days ago
Meadowdale High School 9th grade students Juanangel Avila, right, and Legacy Marshall, left, work t...
David Klepper and Manuel Valdes, Associated Press

Seattle high school teacher advocates for better digital literacy in schools

Shawn Lee, a high school social studies teacher in Seattle, wants to see lessons on internet akin to a kind of 21st century driver's education, an essential for modern life.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Faith leaders urge independent review of Alabama executions