Alabama governor orders review after last lethal injection failure

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has ordered a “holistic review of the execution record” in the state and asked for a temporary moratorium on executions after a third failed lethal injection attempt in the past four years.

Ivey’s order follows Kenneth Eugene Smith’s aborted execution on Thursday after state officials were unable to find a suitable vein to inject the deadly drugs.

It was the second time in the past two months that the state has failed to implement plans to execute a detainee and the third time since 2018. Additionally, earlier this year the state delayed an ultimately successful execution by three hours due to complications.

“In the interest of the victims and their families, we need to get this right,” Ivey said in a statement. “I just can’t in good conscience bring another victim’s family to Holman seeking justice and closure until I’m certain we can carry out the final sentence.”

The Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, is the site of the state’s lethal injection center.

Ivey said she is working with Alabama Department of Justice Commissioner John Hamm to “ensure the state can be successful in delivering justice in the future.”

“Everything is on the table,” Hamm said in a statement from the inquiry, “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 down to the personnel and equipment involved.”

Ivey has also urged Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) to wait for the review to be completed before requesting new execution dates for death row inmates.

There are currently only two execution dates for two inmates on the state’s death row. The Associated Press reported that Marshall has not yet commented on whether he would honor Ivey’s request.

Ivey dismissed criticism that the Department of Corrections was responsible for the problems.

“I believe there are legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system at play here,” she said in a statement.

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the AP the investigation should be conducted by an independent third party.

“The Alabama Department of Justice has a history of denying and twisting the truth about its execution failures and cannot be trusted to meaningfully investigate its own incompetence and wrongdoing,” he said.

However, Hamm said he is confident his department is “fully committed to this effort and confident that we can do this right”.