BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Days after Alabama abandoned its attempt to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has announced, in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Corrections, her request for an effective moratorium on executions in the state.
In a press release issued Monday morning, Ivey’s office said she has asked the state attorney general’s office to withdraw pending motions to set executions dates for Alan Eugene Miller and James Edward Barber. Ivey’s office has also asked the office not to seek additional execution dates until a “top-to-bottom review” of the state’s execution process is completed by the state’s department of corrections.
Alabama’s attorney general has not yet said whether he will comply with Ivey’s requests.
In a written statement, Ivey couched the requested moratorium as a means of assuring justice for the families of crime victims.
“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,” Ivey said. “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.”
Alabama prisons commissioner John Hamm said in a statement released alongside Ivey’s that his department is “fully committed” to Ivey’s plan.
“I agree with Governor Ivey that we have to get this right for the victims’ sake,” Hamm said. “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. The Alabama Department of Corrections is fully committed to this effort and confident that we can get this done right.”
Robert Dunham, executive director of the nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center said that any review of Alabama’s execution process should be undertaken by an independent investigator, not the agency that carries out the state’s executions.
“The Alabama Department of Corrections has a history of denying and bending the truth about its execution failures, and it cannot be trusted to meaningfully investigate its own incompetence and wrongdoing,” Dunham said. “Alabama should not be carrying out further executions until it is willing to be accountable for its actions, accept responsibility for its failures, and commit to truthfulness and transparency in any further executions.”
A spokesperson of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said he will “have more to say” on the issue at a later date.
“The Attorney General read the Governor’s and Commissioner’s comments with interest,” the spokesperson said. “He will have more to say on this at a later date.”