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Christian Leaders Plead With Alabama Governor Kay Ivey for Public Review of Death Penalty Procedures

Kay Ivey and Alabama death penalty procudures
187th Fighter Wing, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In a letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, 170 pastors and professionals pleaded with the governor to fully and publicly review the state’s death penalty procedures. While they applauded Ivey for pausing executions, they called for a much more thorough and public investigation of the current state’s practices.

The letter begins by calling out Ivey’s “strong Christian faith that is central to your life and your leadership of our state.”

Similarly, the signers of the letter impart their own calls to action: “As faith leaders, we are responsible for guiding and shepherding thousands of Alabamians to daily live out the tenets of their faith, to be ethical, moral, compassionate human beings. 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 letter goes on to quote Micah 6:8, calling on the governor “to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.”

A History of Botched Executions in Alabama

Back in November 2022, Ivey paused executions in order to review the state’s processes. The decision came after three attempted executions went terribly wrong. Joe Nathan James’ death took more than three hours in July 2022. In September 2022, Alan Miller’s execution warrant expired before staff could secure the IV line for lethal injection. A similar mishap with an IV line and subsequent called-off execution happened in November 2022 for Kenneth Smith.

However, the pause on executions and review of death penalty procedures isn’t enough for this group of state leaders. As summarized in the letter, “Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm recently shared publicly that the review should be completed in a month or two.” This attempt at an internal review is far from what is needed, according to the letter.

Governor Kay Ivey Called To Review the Death Penalty Processes

The group, instead, is calling for “transparency, accountability, and humility in how the State of Alabama undertakes responsibilities.”

Other conservative states, such as Tennessee and Oklahoma, experienced similar execution malfunctions and underwent independent reviews.

Republican Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, asked a third party to review the state’s execution processes. The review exposed multiple cases of failure to follow the state’s procedures. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin likewise called for an independent review of processes after the state had used an unauthorized drug for lethal injection. The review found other breaks in protocol to be addressed.

RELATED: Judge: Execution Can’t Proceed Without Religious Requests

“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,” the letter continues.