On Monday, November 21, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey stopped the Department of Corrections from executing prisoners on death row, ordering a “top-to-bottom review of the state’s execution process.” Her action followed two recent executions called off because of problems administering the lethal drugs. These two were preceded by an execution in July that took three hours before Joe Nathan James Jr. was “successfully” killed.
The press release announcing the governor’s action quoted her saying,
“For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right.”
That begs the question: how about the prisoners being executed? Do they deserve a “humane” execution, assuming that’s possible?
Responding to the news of the order, I submitted the following to the governor’s website:
Thank you for stopping prisoner executions in Alabama and ordering a “top-to-bottom review of the state’s execution process.” The recent attempted executions of Alan Eugene Miller and Kenneth Eugene Smith following the prolonged execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. reveal a systemic failure with Alabama’s process.
To ensure the integrity of the review and its findings, I urge you to appoint the “reviewers” to be independent of the Department of Corrections. Otherwise, you’re asking the fox to count the chickens in the coop; a few will no doubt disappear.
One additional point: your statement “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” is nonsensical. Isn’t the execution process defined and controlled by the Department of Corrections? Aren’t department staff solely responsible for the procedure and, therefore, accountable for its integrity? Please don’t stir the political coals.
Without excusing the crimes and the injustice to the victims and their families, those sentenced to die are humans with souls. They deserve the most humane execution Alabama can carry out. Otherwise, the state becomes an instrument of revenge rather than justice.
The governor’s order comes admidst earlier lawsuits and investigations from the U.S. Department of Justice, contending the conditions at Alabama’s prisons are unconstitutional because they don’t provide safe and sanitary conditions — safe from other prisoners and prison staff.
Sources and More Info
al.com, Gov. Kay Ivey orders moratorium on executions in Alabama
al.com, Alabama halts executions pending review; expert says investigation ‘needs to be independent’
Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic, Dead to Rights
WAAY, DOJ targets Alabama in new investigation into prison conditions, critical staffing shortages