Weekly Report from the Board Meeting at Holman Prison 12.21.16
Earlier today we forwarded the year end report from DPIC (released at 12:01am today) and related articles. The death penalty is at historic lows by way of new sentences, executions, and public support but Alabama continues to have the largest per capita death row in the country and last year ranked number four behind such states as CA, OH and TX for number of death sentences and number one per capita. What does that say about Alabama?
Also just out, “Wishing for midnight” written by Leah Nelson who is a paralegal with the team that represented Ron Smith, executed at Holman Prison, Atmore, Alabama, on December 8. Smith’s jury voted to spare his life, but in a unique quirk of Alabama’s justice system, the judge overrode them. In this minute-by-minute narrative, members of Ron’s legal team hope for a reprieve from the governor or the Supreme Court. THE MARSHALL PROJECT
Next year there are bills on both sides of the aisle in our state to address jury override. Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has a judicial override ban in the House, while Brewbaker R-Montgomery is making a similar proposal in the Senate. It appears that Brewbaker has seen the handwriting on the wall as we are now the only state with jury override. Senator Hank Sanders has filed bills to get rid of jury override for years but they never reached the floor.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that an inmate who used the botched execution of Ronald B. Smith as part of his appeal can challenge the use of midazolam as an execution drug. Others will likely do the same. Arizona agrees not to use midazolam in executions; same drug at issue in Alabama.
While speaking about the execution protocol, one of the Alabama inmates challenging it was taken to a hearing where a nameless woman testified that she had bought execution drugs for the DOC. She refused to reveal where these had been purchased.
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruled the Alabama death penalty constitutional in 3 cases which Scotus had sent back for review because of the Hurst issue. This hardly comes as a surprise. After all this is Alabama!
But even in Alabama and even on death row there will be Christmas. Thank you to all who have sent us Christmas cards. One of the last pieces of mail that Ron received on the day of his execution and brought out to show us was a Christmas card from the group the Extended Family. We also thank our generous donors and this week would like to lift up our Swiss friends at Lifespark. You encourage us.
Today we are having our Christmas celebration during our weekly meeting.
See you next week!