Alabama’s Last Execution was an Atrocity

The last time Alabama played God, executing death row inmate Christopher Brooks by lethal injection on January 21, 2016, The Montgomery Advertiser and al.com published a column of mine in which I wrote: “Initial reports out of Alabama are that the execution went as ‘smoothly’ as killing a reasonably healthy 43-year-old man can go. In any event, it appears there was no visible evidence Brooks suffered bodily distress as the lethal drugs were administered, prompting Alabama Prison Commissioner Jeff Dunn to say that the execution with the controversial sedative drug midazolam ‘went exactly as planned[.]” (See Executions are hardly an exact science,” on February 8, 2016, and “Courts denied phone to attorneys of man condemned to death,” on February 9, 2016).

Boy, was I wrong. I was wrong just like Commissioner Dunn, and every media representative and Alabama law enforcement official in attendance was wrong – for painting Mr. Brooks’ execution as a peaceful passing, like he just curled up in a comfy hammock and dozed off – never to wake again.

In a federal court filing on April 15, 2016, that has been inexplicably unreported in the media, Mr. Brooks’ federal defenders, who additionally represent Ronald Bert Smith (scheduled for execution on December 8), allege that after Mr. Brooks was injected with the controversial drug midazolam – the first in Alabama’s three-drug execution cocktail which is supposed to anesthetize the prisoner so that they…

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