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60-plus lawyers ask for independent review of execution protocols

The letter suggests state officials follow the example of the state of Tennessee, which launched an independent investigation.

A sign outside of Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama.

More than sixty lawyers across Alabama penned a letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm urging them to initiate an independent review of the state’s execution protocols.

A retired circuit court judge, a former prosecutor, law professors, and dozens of attorneys and policy advocates comprise the letter’s signees.

The letter suggests state officials follow the example of the state of Tennessee, which launched an independent investigation into its own execution protocols in June of 2022. The authors of the letter wrote that the independent investigation in Tennessee was “a model for Alabama.”

“There is much information that can be learned from other conservative states that have done the important work of examining how our justice system carries out executions,” the letter states. “It is of utmost importance to Alabamians that the state use the time afforded by Governor Ivey’s order to get this right. We believe that this can best be aided through the thorough review of an independent investigatory body.”

In November, Ivey instructed the Alabama Attorney General’s office to withdraw pending motions to set execution dates and not seek additional execution dates until “a top-to-bottom review” of execution procedures was completed. That examination remains ongoing, with the decision to review internally instead of with an independent outside review garnering criticism since the time of the order.

Ivey’s announcement came after the state failed two execute two incarcerated individuals, Alan Eugene Miller and Kenneth Eugene Smith, with both attempts proving unsuccessful due to attending staff’s failure to locate suitable veins to administer the lethal injections into Smith and Miller.

“It is preposterous to believe that the agency responsible for botching multiple executions can responsibly and thoroughly investigate itself and suggest remedies to correct its own behavior,” said Alison Mollman, Senior Counsel for the ACLU of Alabama, in a statement released with the letter on Thursday.

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While the internal investigation continues, the Alabama Supreme Court approved changes to the state’s execution procedures in January, with the governor now allowed to pick a time frame for execution.

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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