On 21 November, Alabama announced that all executions in the state will be halted pending a top to bottom review of the state’s execution protocol. The Governor directed the Attorney General to withdraw his requests for two execution dates and not seek any new ones. This is the first time in the state’s history that a review of this nature has been proposed and follows a recent spate of botched executions.
The State of Alabama executed Mr. Joe Nathan James, Jr. on 28 July, in what appears to have been the longest-recorded lethal injection execution in U.S. history. On 22 September, prison officials attempted to execute Alan Miller using the same protocol. They tried to set an IV line for approximately 90 minutes, poking Miller with a needle as many as 18 times. When they failed to set the IV line before Miller’s execution warrant expired at midnight, they called off the execution. On 17 November, the state pressed ahead with the execution of Kenneth Smith, using the same procedure as it did for Joe James Jr and Alan Miller. After attempting to place an IV line for an hour, the state once again had to call off the execution. The state would not confirm how many times Mr. Smith was punctured with needles, but did admit several different sites were tried before they gave up.
These botched executions highlight the multifaceted problems linked to the misuse of medicines in executions by untrained staff and expose the reality behind lethal injection’s medical façade.