Alabama Pauses Executions After Third Failed Lethal Injection

Huntsville Texas USA Death Chamber

Photo: Getty Images

Alabama has issued a moratorium on executions after a second botched attempt to execute a prisoner in the past few months and the third since 2018.

Governor Kay Ivey ordered a "top-to-bottom" review of the state's capital punishment procedures.

The announcement comes after the failed execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was sentenced to death for killing three people in 1999.

While the U.S. 11th Circuit Court issued a stay on his execution last Thursday (November 17) night, the Supreme Court lifted the stay about an hour later. Smith spent several hours strapped to a gurney while the legal battle played out. Once the Supreme Court gave the approval to execute Smith, nurses began the procedure but had trouble finding a vein to inject the lethal three-drug cocktail.

After about an hour, they were forced to abandon the execution attempt. In September, the execution of Alan Eugene Miller was also halted for similar reasons.

"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," Ivey said in a statement.

Ivey also ordered Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw all applications to reschedule the executions of Miller and Smith.

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the department will fully cooperate with the review and is open to all changes to the process.

"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," Hamm said.

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