Alabama AG says state needs to move quickly with execution review, resume killing the condemned

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, December 6, 2022

A state review of execution procedures should be done quickly so death sentences can move forward, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Monday.

Marshall told reporters that he did not object to the review announced last month by Gov. Kay Ivey after a string of aborted lethal injections, but that “there is a timeliness for this to occur.”

“I stand before you today to be very clear that, so far as I and my office are concerned, there is no moratorium nor will there be on capital punishment in Alabama,” Marshall said during a news conference at his office in downtown Montgomery.

Ivey last month ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of the state’s capital punishment system after an unprecedented third failed lethal injection because of trouble obtaining venous access. Ivey asked Marshall not to seek additional execution dates for any other death row inmates until the review is complete.

Asked if he would abide by the governor’s request to pause requests, Marshall said he intends to discuss the issue with the governor but that he did not want to “stand very long in delay.” He declined to say when his office would seek another execution date. The office does not have any pending requests.

“What you simply heard was the governor ask for a delay to be able to investigate what could be done better within the execution protocol. And so we look forward to having any conversation with her about that. But at the same time, let’s be clear: This needs to be expedited and be done quickly because we have victims’ families right now that are asking the question of when we’ll be able to see that next (execution) date. I need to be able to give them answers,” Marshall said.

Both Republican officials have authority over executions. The governor has the ability to grant a reprieve on the night of the execution. The attorney general’s office seeks execution dates and handles final appeals.

Ivey’s call for a review followed the uncompleted execution last month of Kenneth Eugene Smith. He was the second inmate the state was unable to put to death in two months and its third since 2018. The state completed an execution in July, but only after a three-hour delay caused partly by the same problem with starting an IV line.

A spokeswoman for Ivey said the governor ordered the review to ensure executions could go forward in the future.

“Governor Ivey wholeheartedly agrees with the attorney general that justice delayed is justice denied. That is exactly why two weeks ago, Governor Ivey swiftly moved to do a top-to-bottom review of execution protocol,” spokeswoman Gina Maiola said.