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Gov. Kay Ivey orders halt to Alabama executions after failed lethal injection attempts

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is pictured signing the state's Human Life Protection Act, HB314, which institutes a near-complete ban on abortion, into law in May 2019. File Photo by UPI
1 of 4 | Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is pictured signing the state's Human Life Protection Act, HB314, which institutes a near-complete ban on abortion, into law in May 2019. File Photo by UPI | License Photo

Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Gov. Kay Ivey ordered a halt to executions in Alabama on Monday after a series of failed attempts at lethal injections in the state.

Ivey called for the moratorium as she ordered a "top-to-bottom" review of the state's execution process, according to a news release obtained by AL.com and the Montgomery Advertiser.

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The governor also called for Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw pending motions filed with the state's Supreme Court to set executions for Alan Eugene Miller and James Edward Barber.

The moratorium came after Alabama decided to abandon the scheduled execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith on Thursday after the execution team could not find a vein to complete the lethal injection before his death warrant expired at midnight after a last-minute legal battle that reached the Supreme Court.

"Due to time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court's proceedings, the execution was called off at approximately 11:20 p.m.," the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Before Smith's case, Alabama also failed to execute Miller in September before the warrant expired as corrections officials failed to access his veins to inject the three-drug cocktail.

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In July, the execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. was delayed three hours as officials struggled to find veins for lethal injection.

James was ultimately put to death at 9:27 p.m. on July 28, marking the second completed execution of the year in Alabama.

"Working in conjunction with Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm, Governor Ivey is asking that the Department of Corrections undertake a top-to-bottom review of the state's execution process, and how to ensure the state can successfully deliver justice going forward," officials said in the Monday press release.

The governor did not provide a timeline for the completion of the review and blamed the moratorium on the courts, not on state prison employees.

"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," Ivey said in the statement.

"I believe that legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here."

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