Amendment 3 would change death penalty commutations

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There are 13 days until election day, and this year, you’ll need to know more than the candidates who will be on the ballot. There are also 10 constitutional amendments voters can decide on.

A yes vote on Amendment 3 would require the governor to notify the state attorney general and victims’ family members if a criminal’s death sentence is changed to life in prison. It got widespread support from Republicans in the legislature, but many House Democrats abstained from voting.

According to the Alabama Democratic Victory, “This would limit the power that the governor currently holds to reduce a death sentence to life in prison sentence. Voting No on this amendment will allow the governor to maintain the power that they currently have…”

The last time a governor exercised this power was in 1999.

“She took her over to the edge of a ravine and shot her in the back of her head and pushed her over. And this was a 14-year-old child who had never done anything,” said Janette Grantham, executive director of VOCAL.

Judith Neelley was 18 when she and her husband violently murdered Lisa Ann Millican. Gov. Fob James commuted the death penalty for Neelley before he left office, but he didn’t notify anyone.

“This family who had gone through all this, this mother had known what had been done to her child and everything. They now had to come to a parole hearing and try to keep that lady at least keep her in prison,” said Grantham.

Janette Grantham runs a victim’s support organization that worked together with Gov. Kay Ivey and Sen. Steve Livingston, R-District 8, to create this legislation, now an amendment.

“They’re trying to avoid situations where the family in the future does not have to go through this excruciating pain,” said Livingston.

“This will prevent that from happening again before another governor can do what he did,” said Grantham.

The amendment also states that a failure to provide notice would void the governors’ actions, which will allow the attorney general to seek a new execution order from the Alabama Supreme Court.

You can read the entire text of the amendment here.

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