The state of Alabama is resuming executions after a three-month delay in the wake of problems with lethal injections that forced the cancellation of three executions, according to reporting by The Associated Press.
Last November, Gov. Kay Ivey ordered executions paused to allow for a “top to bottom” internal review of death penalty procedures.
“I am confident that the Department is prepared as possible to resume carrying out executions consistent with the mandates of the Constitution,” said Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm.
“This is true in spite of the fact that death row inmates will continue seeking to evade their lawfully imposed death sentences.”
Executioners were unable to connect an intravenous line to a condemned prisoner by the midnight deadline when the death warrant expired, resulting in the third lethal injection failure.
In a detailed report on the internal review’s findings, Hamm said the prison reviewed the training for staff involved in executions and increased the number of medical professionals.
Officials ordered new equipment to assist them, conducted rehearsals, and reviewed legal strategy and procedures from other states. Other changes were incorporated that will give the execution team more time to complete its duties, reported the AP.
Ivey wrote, in a letter to Attorney General Steve Marshall, it is “time to resume our duty in carrying out lawful death sentences. 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.”
At Ivey’s request, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling that allows death warrants to remain in effect longer than 24 hours, thus giving the state more time to carry out an execution.
Dozens of attorneys, faith leaders, and other advocates requested an independent review, following the example of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, instead of the internal one authorized by Ivey.
“Throughout this process, we have argued that it is unreasonable to believe that the agency responsible for botching multiple executions can thoroughly investigate itself and suggest remedies to correct its own behavior,” said JaTaune Bosby Gilchrist, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.
Ivey’s review of the state’s execution procedures is “disappointing, but sadly not surprising,” said Christine Freeman, executive director of the Middle District of Alabama Federal Defender Program. The group represents condemned inmates.
“Instead of acting in the measured manner of the governor of Tennessee, by operating in the open with an independent commission, Alabama has once again chosen to pretend that there are no problems and not disclose what ‘review’ actually occurred,” said Freeman in an email.