Alabama 2012 Death Penalty Update & Fact Sheet
As 2012 began, Alabama was expected to once again be one of the states leading the nation in the number executions completed, both per capita (Alabama ranked #1 in 2011) and overall(Alabama ranked #2, behind Texas in 2011). On February 22nd, the Alabama Supreme Court confirmed these fears by announcing the first two execution dates of the year: Tommy Arthur - March 29, 2012 and Carey Grayson - April 12, 2012. It seemed the murderous wheels of Alabama's capital punishment system would continue undeterred.
With the announcement of these two pending execution dates, wheels of another sort also began to turn. Alabama's death penalty abolition mechanism began to organize to fight for the lives of these two men awaiting almost certain death at the hands of the state. Talking points relating to the case of Tommy Arthur were distributed by Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty and other organizations and individuals, and many letters were submitted to Governor Bentley on Mr. Arthur's behalf. However, it seemed nothing would halt the state of Alabama, and its deliberate intention to end a man's life.
On March 22, 2012, this all changed. In a somewhat surprising decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Mr. Arthur's favor on several key issues relating to Alabama's death penalty protocol, and as a result of this decision, issued a temporary stay, pending further proceedings. Mr. Arthur's appeal was remanded back down to the state court which had originally summarily dismissed his appeal, with instructions to revisit his claims regarding Alabama's protocol.
This was GREAT news! However, it was quickly determined that this held no immediate bearing on the scheduled execution of Mr. Grayson, then only 3 weeks away.
Again, the abolition network mobilized, and again talking points were distributed. Tenuous days past as hope flickered that yet another execution would be halted, either by the 11th Circuit Court or other judicial entity.
On April 9, 2012 temporary relief was, in fact granted by the Alabama Supreme Court, pending a ruling on the issues acknowledged by the 11th Circuit Court in the case of Mr. Arthur. There would be no execution on April 12th...more GREAT news!
Since then, things have been remarkably quiet. No announcements have been made by the courts or the state, and while this is by no means a permanent victory, we are certainly grateful for the much needed reprieve.
As always, we are thankful for your support, and we will keep you posted as new information becomes available. Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time until the courts are satisfied and Alabama once again resumes the premeditated murder of its citizens, but when that time comes we will once again join our voices with the many who've proclaimed before, "Not in my name!" And we will not relent until the state of Alabama finally concedes and executes only justice NOT people!
Specific issues presented by Mr. Arthur and upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals:
• Protocol - Switch from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital as the first of three drugs used in lethal injection - Upheld on grounds of 8th Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment"
• Protocol - Inconsistency in administration of execution procedure - example given: witness testimony contends "pinch test" neglected during the 2011 execution of Eddie Powell - Upheld on grounds of lack of transparency surrounding Alabama's execution protocol.
Brandon Fountain, Development Officer