MONTGOMERY, Ala — Gov. Kay Ivey is ordering a pause on executions in the state and a thorough review of the process in light of the last two failed attempts.
In a statement, Ivey asked Attorney General Steve Marshall to hold off on setting dates for two pending executions and all future ones until a “top-to-bottom” review is complete.
“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,” Ivey said.
Attorney General Marshall’s spokesperson said he’s read the governor’s comments with interest and will have more to say at a later date.
Alabama Arise Policy Analyst Mike Nicholson says it’s a good first step, and he hopes it opens the door to other needed reforms.
“I’d hate to see it be the only step because we do have a ways to go,” Nicholson said.
The state’s recent failed attempts at carrying out executions have prompted calls for more transparency out of the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson helps provide legal assistance to those on death row. He says this news was a relief for many, but he doesn’t think the ADOC should be conducting the review on itself.
“We’ve seen these tragic, tortuous proceedings. I commend them for stepping back, but I think that won’t yield something better if they’re not prepared to acknowledge that they need some help and they need the intervention of other people,” Stevenson said.
ACLU Alabama Senior Counsel Alison Mollman commended Ivey’s decision but like Stevenson, would like to see an outside party conduct the review.
“To get to the heart of what’s going on, there need to be independent investigators,” Mollman said.
According to the Equal Justice Iniative, Alabama has executed 70 people since 1976. This is the first time the governor has put a pause on the practice.
ADOC Commissioner John Hamm said in a statement the Department is fully committed to this review and confident they can get it done right.