Alabama prisoner executions put on hold as Gov. Ivey orders review of capital punishment procedures

Alabama prisoner executions put on hold as governor orders review of capital punishment.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:27 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2022 at 10:39 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Governor Kay Ivey ordered a thorough review of the state’s execution protocols after another failed lethal injection attempt.

An official with a group that tracks capital punishment says Alabama’s failed lethal injection history is unprecedented nationally.

The Deputy Director of the Death Penalty Information Center, Ngozi Ndulue is glad there’s going to be a pause and a lengthy review of procedures even though she is not too thrilled with who is conducting the review.

“I think there are still some concerns here because the investigation that has been ordered is supposed to be done by the Department of Corrections,” Ndulue said. “Throughout this period, when there have been problems with the execution, the Department of Corrections has really downplayed or denied that there are problems existing.”

Governor Kay Ivey does not believe the problem is with prison staffers or anyone in law enforcement. Instead, Governor Ivey points the blame at the legal loopholes and last-minute appeals from inmates such as Kenneth Eugene Smith.

Esther Brown with Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty says that does not add up.

“The governor seemed to be blaming the attorney,” Brown said. “You know, she was blaming the law, which allows one to file appeals.”

Governor Ivey is working with Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw motions seeking execution dates for two inmates. Smith’s execution attempt is the state’s third failed lethal injection in three years.

When there have been problems in other states, Ndulee those officials assessed the problem instead of going forward.

“In Tennessee, there was a testing issue, the day of an execution,” Ndulue said. “So this is not the same as you know, even having started in execution and not being able to finish it. But with that testing issue, Governor Lee chose to stop executions and do an actual order an independent investigation.”

The state attorney general’s office told WAFF they had no further comment on the new protocol review, and the Alabama Department of Corrections has not yet responded to a request for comment.