A group of faith leaders is asking Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to appoint an independent review board to investigate the state’s execution protocol, AL.com reports.
“Our beliefs are varied and our communities diverse, but we all agree that the unnecessary pain and suffering at the hands of the state where we live and worship demands our response,” the interfaith group of about 170 leaders wrote in a letter hand-delivered to the governor’s office this week, according to AL.com.
Ivey put executions on hold in November after corrections officials botched the failed execution of Kenneth Smith on November 17, the third execution last year that was botched and the fourth since 2018. She called for a “top to bottom review” of the execution process, not for the sake of the individuals who had been tortured by the repeated attempts by the corrections department to find usable veins to inject with lethal injection drugs but “for the sake of the victims and their families.” She noted, “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.”
The faith leaders are asking that the review be undertaken not by the corrections department, but by an independent group.
“We speak with a united front in requesting an independent, external, comprehensive review of Alabama’s execution protocols and procedures, as has been done in other states with similar problems. Such a review must include greater transparency concerning nitrogen hypoxia, as well. We are very concerned that the state is even contemplating a form of execution which involves gassing people to death,” they wrote.
“The fact of the matter is that an agency that has failed repeatedly to get its own house in order cannot be trusted to privately conduct an investigation into problems it is causing.”
They delivered the letter one day after Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall asked the court to dismiss a federal lawsuit Smith filed after his botched execution. Smith maintains that the state shouldn’t be able to set another execution date after botching its November attempt to kill him, as it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, AL.com reports.