Gov. Ivey ends execution suspension

Published 12:37 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Friday that she was ending the halt she put on executions in the state in November of 2022.

Ivey halted all executions in the state and ordered a “top-to-bottom review” of Alabama’s execution procedures after an execution was forced to be a called off when corrections personnel were unable to establish an intravenous execution line for an execution that was meant to take place Nov. 17, 2022. The botched attempt was the third time since 2018 – and second in 2022 – that Alabama had to call off an execution in process.

This week, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm completed his review of the process and submitted his report to Ivey.

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“The department conducted an in-depth review of our execution process that included evaluating the department’s legal strategy in capital litigation matters, training procedures for department staff and medical personnel involved in executions, increasing the number of medical personnel utilized by the department for executions, assisting medical personnel participating in the process and the equipment on-hand to support the individuals participating in the execution,” Hamm’s letter to Ivey read. “During our review, department personnel communicated with corrections personnel responsible for conducting executions in several other states. Our review also included thorough reviews of execution procedures from multiple states to ensure that our process aligns with the best practices in other jurisdictions.

“After discussing the matter with my staff, I am confident that the department is as prepared as possible to resume carrying out executions consistent with the mandates of the Constitution. This is true in spite of the fact that death row inmates will continue seeking to evade their lawfully imposed death sentences.”

Recently, the Supreme Court of Alabama changed its rule for scheduling executions. Before the amendment, the Supreme Court would issue a single-day execution warrant that would expire at midnight for each execution. The new rule allows for the court to set a timeframe for the execution to occur, making it more difficult for inmates to attempt last-minute appeals and requests for stays of execution. Hamm pointed to that rule change as being a key change that will help the state with its executions.

Hamm also said that the Department of Corrections is adding to its pool of available medical personnel for executions and the vetting process for the new outside medical professionals will begin immediately. Also, the department has ordered new equipment that is already available for future executions.

Hamm also said that department personnel conducted multiple rehearsals of the execution process during his review to ensure that corrections staff is “well-trained and prepared to perform their duties during the execution process.”

In recent weeks, religious leaders across the state have called for Ivey to allow for an independent review of the state’s execution procedures, as well. More than 170 leaders from more than a dozen religious denominations signed a letter to Ivey with the request earlier this month. Nonetheless, Ivey removed the suspension of executions on Feb. 23, sending a letter to Attorney General Steve Marshall to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to issue an execution warrant for an eligible death row inmate whenever deemed appropriate moving forward.

“Far too many Alabama families have waited for far too long – often for decades – to obtain justice for the loss of a loved one and to obtain closure for themselves,” Ivey said her letter to Marshall. “This brief pause in executions was necessary to make sure that we can successfully deliver that justice and that closure. “Now it is time to resume our duty of carrying out lawful death sentences.”