In a letter to Governor Kay Ivey (pictured) of Alabama, over 170 local faith leaders from many denominations and traditions across the state asked her to commit to a “comprehensive, independent, and external review of Alabama’s death penalty procedures” in the wake of a series of botched executions. The church representatives thanked the governor for pausing executions but urged her to ensure transparency and independence in reviewing how Alabama performs executions.

The letter also raised concerns about capital punishment itself: “The death penalty also precludes the possibility of redemption. When so many of the condemned men committed their crimes at such a young age, many before the age of 25, we find it regrettable that these young men are denied a chance to redeem themselves or atone for what they have done. God’s Word is clear: all life is precious. When there is life, there is hope – there is the ability to seek repentance and truth. This seeking takes place even in the hearts of those who have committed the most heinous of crimes. Death cuts short this search for redemption.”

Governor Ivey halted executions in November 2022 after the state mishandled three consecutive lethal injections. In July 2022, Alabama took more than three hours to kill Joe Nathan James. Two months later, the state had to call off the execution of Alan Miller because corrections officials couldn’t set an IV line before his execution warrant expired. On November 17, the state once again had to call off an execution due to failure to set an IV line for Kenneth Smith. The faith leaders called Ivey’s decision to pause executions “a bold and necessary step.”

The leaders asked that “The review process should not be shrouded in secrecy” and expressed skepticism that an investigation could be conducted “in a month or two,” as suggested by the Department of Corrections. They pointed to independent reviews of executions carried out in other conservative states, such as Tennessee and Oklahoma and expressed particular reservations about introducing the gas chamber: “We are very concerned that the state is even contemplating a form of execution which involves gassing people to death.” The governor’s office responded by agreeing, “we’ve got to get this right.”


Evan Mealins, Montgomery cler­gy calls for review of exe­cu­tion process to be pub­lic, Montgomery Advertiser, February 7, 2023; Mike Cason, Religious lead­ers ask Gov. Kay Ivey for inde­pen­dent review of how Alabama car­ries out death penal­ty, AL​.com/​B​i​r​m​i​ngham News, February 7, 2023; Erin Davis, Faith lead­ers call for more trans­par­ent exe­cu­tion pro­to­col review process, WSFA News, Montgomery, February 72023

Read the let­ter from more than 170 faith lead­ers to Governor Ivey.