Faith leaders call for more transparent execution protocol review process

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:57 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - More than 150 faith leaders across Alabama want to appeal to Governor Kay Ivey urging an independent investigation.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, First Christian Church Reverend Shane Isner says the conversation about the death penalty is even more relevant.

“St. Valentine, after all, was the victim of state-sponsored execution,” said Isner.

Isner and faith leaders from various denominations addressed a letter to Ivey to advocate for more humane executions and a more transparent execution protocol review process.

“Judaism has traditional rules around how you slaughter an animal and it’s supposed to be done in the most painless and quickest manner. And so, if we consider that and then we consider human beings in this state, we have a long way to go,” said Rabbi Scott Looper of Temple Beth Or Montgomery.

Ivey ordered a top-to-bottom review of the state exaction protocol after two failed lethal injections last November.

“Consider what we’re doing, poking someone, stabbing them in the arms for hours - from someone who’s not even a doctor,” said Isner.

One month later, Ivey told WSFA 12 News that the state was looking into additional medical personnel.

The faith leaders also want the execution protocol review process to be completed by an appointed nonpartisan review board.

“I stand as a representative of a 2000-year-old institution, which in recent decades has shown clearly that most human organizations, ecclesial political, and cultural, cannot investigate themselves, it is honorius to almost impossible,” said Pater Manuel Williams with Resurrection Catholic Missions.

Gina Maiola, Governor’s Ivey’s communications director, shared the following statement: “Carrying out an execution is the state carrying out her responsibility to upholding the law and to ensuring justice. This is a responsibility Governor Ivey takes very seriously, and as she has made very clear along the way, this will review remain transparent as is appropriate, while also protecting sensitive information. As she said when making the decision to issue a top-to-bottom review of the process, “For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right.”

She did not answer the question with a timeline of the review process.

When asked for comment, the Alabama Department of Corrections released the following statement:

The ADOC denies that the process surrounding executions is ‘shrouded in secrecy.’ There are aspects of the process, however, that must be protected to ensure the safety and security of the facility, employees, public, and inmates. The review is not focused on any one part of the execution process, but is a thorough top-to-bottom review of all aspects of the ADOC protocol. The review is nearing completion and ADOC will make an announcement upon its completion.

Since the execution review process started, the state supreme court will allow executions to be carried out within a time frame instead of a single day.

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