Updated Nov 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Alabama's lethal injection process under scrutiny after botched attempts

Lethal injection chamber at a Texas prison. Photo: Paul Harris/Getty Image

Alabama failed to complete another lethal injection late Thursday, raising concern about the state’s recent troubles with capital punishment, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: Alabama’s struggles are considered unprecedented since the state has aborted more injections since 2018 than the rest of the country combined, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which tracks capital punishment.

Details: Kenneth Eugene Smith was due for execution late Thursday, but the state was unable to complete it due to struggles with intravenous lines, AP reports.

  • The state called off the execution after they couldn't get it started within the 100-minute window to do so, per AP. The death warrant expired once the window closed.

Zoom out: This is the third time since 2018 that the state has struggled with execution, per AP. Two months ago, the state failed to complete another lethal injection for a second inmate.

  • In July, the state completed an execution but it only happened after a three-hour delay, which was caused partly by the same issue that plagued the other executions.

What they’re saying: “I think Alabama clearly has some explaining to do, but also some reflection to do about what is going wrong in its execution process,” Ngozi Ndulue, deputy director of the DPIC, told AP. “The question is whether Alabama is going to take that seriously.”

Flashback: Alabama isn't alone in botching lethal injections. Tennessee said in May 2022 it would pause all executions for the rest of the year and begin a third-party investigation into the state's struggles to administer lethal injection executions, per Axios' Shawna Chen.

  • Similarly, Oklahoma faced a series of problems in 2014 and 2015 related to drug mix-ups before beginning lethal injections, according to Axios. The state had suspended capital punishment for years because of these issues, but it has since ramped up again, per the New York Times.

More from Axios:

4 legal alternatives to lethal injection in the US

Oklahoma kills inmate with first lethal injection in 6 years

Tennessee pauses executions as it reviews lethal injections

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