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ACLU criticizes request for longer execution window

The ACLU is criticizing Ivey for proposing that the state be granted more time to carry out certain executions.

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When Gov. Kay Ivey announced a halt to executions in the state to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review, organizations including ACLU applauded the decision despite disagreeing with the governor about why it is important.

Now ACLU is criticizing Ivey for proposing to the Alabama Supreme Court that the state be granted more time to carry out certain executions.

“The governor is asking that the very people who botched multiple executions be given additional time to violate the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment,” said Alison Mollman, senior counsel for ACLU.

The state has failed in both of its latest execution attempts, as the clock struck midnight before officials with the Alabama Department of Corrects could establish intravenous access.

Last-minute appeals have significantly shortened the window in which the executions could be carried out, and Ivey has asked the Alabama Supreme Court to change a rule to allow for extended time to carry out an execution in the event of a court-imposed stay.

Ivey said staff have informed her of ways that other states have allowed for increased time to carry out executions, both by having a bigger window or by extending the timeframe in the event of a court-imposed stay of execution.

“I prefer this second option, and accordingly asked my lawyers to prepare for you a proposal to this end,” Ivey said. 

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But in each of the last three execution attempts, it has been documented that the state has had great trouble in finding a vein, with the successful execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. taking three hours to complete. 

Anti-death penalty advocates have argued that James was practically tortured with no accountability to the public as officers continued attempts to find a vein.

In addition to the proposed rule change, ADOC Commissioner Jon Hamm said he is looking into ADOC policy that requires executions to begin at 6 p.m., effectively shortening a 24-hour period to perform an execution to just six hours.

AG Steve Marshall said he is honoring Ivey’s request for now to not push for new execution dates, but said that justice cannot wait indefinitely.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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