Alabama Pauses Executions After Third Botched Lethal Injection Since 2018

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Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey paused pending motions to set execution dates and asked the Department of Corrections to undertake a full review of the state’s capital punishment system after multiple lethal injection failures.

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right,” Ivey said in a statement according to WBRC News. “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,” she added.

Her request comes after the scheduled execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith on Thursday was met with an array of problems. Smith’s attorneys claim that he was strapped to his gurney in the death chamber for four hours as the 11th Circuit court and the U.S. Supreme Court decided whether to grant a stay of execution, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. The stay was lifted at 10:20 p.m., but the state abandoned its effort an hour later, citing a late start and difficulty finding Smith’s vein, the outlet reported.

This latest incomplete execution was Alabama’s second failed execution in the past two months and its third since 2018, Newshour reported. (RELATED: Alabama Halts Planned Execution Of Man At Last Second)

Robert Dunham, executive director of an anti-death penalty group, Death Penalty Information Center, praised Ivey for her decision to investigate and review, but stressed that the investigation should be done by an independent party.

“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,” he said, according to PBS.

Ivey stated that she didn’t “buy for a second the narrative being pushed by activists that these issues are the fault of the folks at Corrections or anyone in law enforcement.” Rather, she feels that “legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play” and has promised to commit all necessary support and resources to the Department of Corrections to “ensure those guilty of perpetrating the most heinous crimes in our society receive their just punishment,” according to WBRC News.