Governor Kay Ivey called for a halt on all executions after a rash of unsuccessful lethal injections has presented a dim view of the state's protocols.
On Thursday, Alabama called off the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith after officials with the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) failed to establish an intravenous (IV) line to administer the lethal concoction of chemicals in the state's protocol.
In September, Alan Eugene Miller's execution was also called off after ADOC officials failed to establish an IV line.
A federal judge asked the state to preserve all evidence from both executions so answers could be provided regarding why the state has had continual issues with the protocol.
Doyle Hamm suffered a botched execution in 2018 that saw him file a lawsuit against ADOC. Hamm settled with the state that prevented him from being subjected to another attempt. He eventually died of cancer in 2021.
ADOC has had a reputation with the administration of its lethal injection protocol. In addition to Miller and Smith, the state successfully executed Joe Nathan James.
In a Monday release, Gov. Kay Ivey asked Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw the state's two pending motions before the Alabama Supreme Court to set execution dates for death row inmates. Alan Eugene Miller and James Edward Barber are the only two death row inmates with pending motions.
Ivey also asked Marshall not to seek additional executions until ADOC Commissioner John Hamm can "undertake a top-to-bottom review of the state's execution process and how to ensure the state can successfully deliver justice going forward."
"For the sake of the victims and their families, we've got to get this right," Ivey said in the 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, for that matter. I believe that legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here."
"I will commit all necessary support and resources to the Department to ensure those guilty of perpetrating the most heinous crimes in our society receive their just punishment. I simply cannot, in good conscience, bring another victim's family to Holman looking for justice and closure until I am confident that we can carry out the legal sentence."
Hamm says he agreed with Ivey's sentiment and expressed a desire to find a solution to the problem.
"I agree with Governor Ivey that we have to get this right for the victims' sake," Hamm said. "Everything is on the table – from our legal strategy in dealing with last-minute appeals, to how we train and prepare, to the order and timing of events on execution day, to the personnel and equipment involved. The Alabama Department of Corrections is fully committed to this effort and confident that we can get this done right."
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