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Opinion | Alabama’s about to start botching executions again

The ADOC has reviewed itself and determined that the real cause of its three botched executions were all of these laws.

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Rest easy, everyone, because the Alabama Department of Corrections has completed its review of the Alabama Department of Corrections’ execution process and found that everything is just fine. 

ADOC alerted Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday that it had completed its top-to-bottom review of the state’s execution process and found that only a couple of small changes were necessary. 

Most notably: the law. 

And isn’t that always the case with Alabama’s ADOC? If people would just stop trying to force them to follow the laws of the state and the country, imagine how few problems they’d have. 

But at Ivey’s request, the Alabama Supreme Court agreed to change up the law that put a one-day time limit on how long ADOC could leave a guy waiting around expecting to be put to death, as this week’s medical team (who were probably last week’s janitorial team) poked needles into him in order to find a vein through which the execution drugs can be administered. 

Now, instead of expiring at midnight, Ivey (and future governors) can set an execution time period. And tah-dah, the horrible, no-good execution process that botched three consecutive executions and essentially tortured two humans is fixed. 

(Oh, ADOC also said it plans to hire more medical personnel – it did not provide any details whatsoever on the qualifications of those people or why their additions might aid the process – and has practiced its execution process a lot more.)

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I did appreciate the utter gall of ADOC officials blaming the failed execution process on inmates trying to “run out the clock with last minute appeals and stays of execution.” As if the appeals process isn’t spelled in detail in our laws and utilized prior to every execution. 

Also, was it “last minute appeals” that caused ADOC to scrap the execution of Joe Nathan James Jr., because I seem to recall a three-hour time period in which ADOC’s “medical personnel” were attempting unsuccessfully to locate a vein. That seemed to have much more impact on the execution process than any last-minute legal arguments. 

What about Alan Miller’s execution? Was it last minute appeals or the 90 minutes of failed poking and prodding in search of a vein that stopped that execution? 

This is ridiculous. 

Actually, let me rephrase: This is yet another ridiculously incompetent thing that our department of corrections has done. 

No one buys this sham of a review. (Although, I will say that it’s been completed faster and more publicly than Alabama AG Steve Marshall’s investigation of Alabama AG Steve Marshall’s actions related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.)

And the reason we don’t buy it is because we all have functioning brains. And those functioning brains tell us that you can’t repeatedly botch executions – and botch them because you’re repeatedly failing to accomplish some of the simplest tasks related to that execution – and not have way bigger issues than needing to practice more. 

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It’s absurd. 

There’s no reason that the state’s execution process should be so secretive and mysterious. There’s no reason why ADOC shouldn’t be able to tell us in detail why each execution failed and what specific steps are being taken to address those shortcomings. There’s no reason why there should be such a smell of incompetence and coverup to all of this. 

We’re talking about ending the lives of other humans. If we’re going to take on the monumental responsibility of holding the title of executioners (and that’s what we ALL are when the state carries out an execution), we should guarantee that the process for carrying out that duty is above reproach and as transparent as possible. 

Alabama’s is and has been the exact opposite on both counts. And apparently will remain as such, just with more practice and some more people. 

One day soon, I hope, the majority of the people of this state will realize that the “tough on crime” rhetoric and “what about the victims” misdirection are nothing more than emotional ploys to get them to overlook the fact that ADOC, the AG and the governor are exceptionally awful at carrying out executions. 

And realize that “tough on crime” has absolutely nothing to do with failing to perform basic medical procedures. And that victims’ families would be much better served by a competent process that didn’t require them to attend multiple executions. 

But then, when the majority of the people of this state realize all of that, they’ll probably come to the realization that continuing on with the death penalty just isn’t worth it.

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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