• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Condemns Alabama’s Execution of Kenneth Smith, Calls for Moratorium on Use of the Death Penalty as First Critical Step

January 26, 2024

In response to the execution of Kenneth Smith by the state of Alabama, Justin Mazzola, researcher for Amnesty International USA, said the following:

“The death penalty is a violation of human rights, and we condemn the cruel execution of Kenneth Smith in Alabama. It’s shameful that Governor Ivey decided to proceed and take Kenneth Smith’s life, including because of the many concerns in his case as well as the alarm raised by UN experts on the new, untested execution method.

“This new and untested method follows several botched attempts at executions by lethal injection in Alabama, including a previously botched attempt to execute Kenneth Smith a mere 14 months ago.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and accounts of Kenneth Smith’s last moments simply show that there is no humane way to take someone’s life. It is high time for those in power to stop trying to fix the failed experiment that is the death penalty. Instead, they should devote all resources and focus on alternatives that would more effectively address crime at its roots and protect human rights. We call on the Alabama authorities to immediately establish a moratorium on all executions as a first critical step towards abolition.

“The systemic flaws in Alabama’s death penalty system, which also tainted Kenneth Smith’s case, do not end with this execution. Among others, his death sentence was imposed after a judge overrode the decision of the jury for life imprisonment without parole, a practice that the Alabama legislature and Governor Ivey banned in 2017. Like approximately 30 others still on death row as a result of judicial override, Kenneth Smith was not granted the benefit of that reform, and we look to the state legislature to adopt a bill that would render the law banning judicial override retroactive.

“It is shameful that Governor Ivey did not act to grant Kenneth Smith’s jury’s decision and halt his execution – but she still has a chance to use her powerful pen and strike out the death penalty for those still on death row.”

Contact: [email protected]

Additional information:

  • Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances, regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The organization considers the death penalty a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
  • As of today more than two thirds of all countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In USA, 23 states have fully abolished this punishment.
  • Learn more: https://www.amnestyusa.org/issues/death-penalty/