Alabama Runs Out of Time to Execute Inmate


Alabama officials called off the Thursday lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting because of time concerns and trouble accessing the inmate’s veins. Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state halted the scheduled execution of Alan Miller after they determined they could not get the lethal injection underway before a midnight deadline, the AP reports. Prison officials made the decision at about 11:30pm. The last-minute reprieve came nearly three hours after a divided US Supreme Court had cleared the way for the execution to begin. Miller was returned to his regular cell at a south Alabama prison.

“Due to time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned inmate’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant,” Hamm said. He said “accessing the veins was taking a little bit longer than we anticipated.” Hamm did not know how long the team tried to establish a connection, but noted there are a number of procedures to be done before the team begins trying to connect the IV line.

The aborted execution came after the state’s July execution of Joe Nathan James took more than three hours to get underway after the state had difficulties establishing an intravenous line, leading to accusations that the execution was botched. Miller, 57, was sentenced to death after being convicted of a 1999 workplace rampage in which he killed Terry Jarvis, Lee Holdbrooks, and Scott Yancy. “Despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this execution, nothing will change the fact that a jury heard the evidence of this case and made a decision,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement.

An anti-death penalty group said the situation with Miller’s attempted lethal injection sounded similar to other botched executions. “It is hard to see how they can persist with this broken method of execution that keeps going catastrophically wrong, again and again,” said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve US Forensic Justice Initiative. “In its desperation to execute, Alabama is experimenting on prisoners behind closed doors—surely the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.” (Read more Alabama stories.)