Kenneth Smith is scheduled to be executed in Alabama on January 25, 2024. His jury voted for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, but the judge imposed a death sentence, under a judicial override system outlawed in Alabama in 2017. The state tried to execute Kenneth Smith in 2022, but this attempt by lethal injection failed. The state will this time deprive him of oxygen using nitrogen gas, an execution method not previously used. Twenty-two years old at the time of the crime, Kenneth Smith is now 58. His prison record is one of non-violence, self-improvement, and helping others.
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The Office of Governor Kay Ivey
State Capitol, 600 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36130, USA
Fax: +1 334 353 0004
Kenneth Eugene Smith is scheduled to be executed on January 25, 2024. I urge you to stop the execution. All but one of the 12 jurors at Kenneth Smith’s 1996 retrial voted for a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole but were overridden by the judge. This would be the first execution in a judicial override case in Alabama since 2017, when you signed legislation banning the practice. Kenneth Smith’s execution would contravene the criminal law principle recognized under international standards that those under sentence of death should benefit from retroactive leniency in the event of a change in the law after commission of the crime.
At the time of the 1988 murder, Kenneth Smith was 22, not long out of a childhood marked by exposure to severe domestic violence. Now 58, he is reported to have been a non-violent, respectful, and constructive member of society on death row. This would be the first execution in the world by “nitrogen hypoxia”. Moreover, it comes a year after the state tried and failed to execute Kenneth Smith by lethal injection. A Circuit Judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals described that episode as “horrifying”, involving “protracted, severely painful, and grisly efforts” by the execution team. Three US Supreme Court Justices also described it as “torturous”, with Kenneth Smith experiencing “severe pain and suffering” and left with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I appeal to you to use your clemency power to stop Kenneth Smith’s execution and commute his death sentence.