• Press Release

Amnesty International USA: Cruel Planned Execution of Kenneth Smith by State of Alabama Must Be Stopped 

January 23, 2024

In response to the scheduled execution of Kenneth Smith by the state of Alabama on January 25, the following statement is by Justin Mazzola, researcher, Amnesty International USA.

“The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment, and we urge Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to use her clemency power to stop the execution of Kenneth Smith before it’s too late.

“While Amnesty International is opposed to the death penalty in all cases, there are specifics about Kenneth Smith’s circumstances that make it even more disturbing that Alabama is willing to carry out this execution.

“This execution will be carried out by nitrogen gas, a method not previously used, on a man who was subjected to a cruel botched execution attempt just 14 months ago. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted how this new untested method could be extremely painful, result in a botched execution, and could amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, thereby violating international human rights treaties that the U.S. has ratified. It is high time the death penalty was abolished.

“Furthermore, Kenneth Smith is on death row because of a now illegal practice called judicial override, wherein after a jury voted for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a judge singlehandedly overrode the decision of the jury and imposed a death sentence.  The Alabama legislature and Governor Ivey outlawed this practice in 2017, but it was never made retroactive.

“It’s disturbing that the state of Alabama is willing to execute Kenneth Smith under these circumstances. Governor Ivey has an opportunity to use her clemency power to stop this execution, but she shouldn’t stop there – she should also work with the legislature to pass and enact this year’s bill, HB 27, to make the ban on judicial override retroactive, thus providing relief to others in Smith’s situation, including Rocky Myers.”

Contact: [email protected]

For more on the death penalty: https://www.amnestyusa.org/issues/death-penalty/

Take action asking Governor Kay Ivey to use her clemency power to stop the execution of Kenneth Smith: