Alabama’s governor tries to shift the blame for the state’s botched executions

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In a bizarrely-worded statement, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called for a temporary halt to executions last week. She announced the decision after corrections officials botched the failed execution of Kenneth Smith on November 17, the third execution this year that was botched and the fourth since 2018. (You can read a full account in the following article.)

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right,” Ivey wrote. “I don’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, for that matter. I believe that legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here.”

She pledged to provide “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. I simply cannot, in good conscience, bring another victim’s family to Holman [prison] looking for justice and closure until I am confident that we can carry out the legal sentence.”

Ivey also asked the attorney general not to seek execution dates for others on death row “until the top to bottom review is complete.”

Dept of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm agreed with Ivey’s decision, adding, “We have to get this right for the victims’ sake. 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.”

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