Yesterday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sent a letter to the Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner directing him to execute James Barber by lethal injection at any time between midnight on July 20 and 6 am on July 21.
The governor’s letter was released to the media and reported by al.com yesterday afternoon, but the State did not notify Mr. Barber that his execution was scheduled until late morning today—even though the new execution protocol says he must be notified before the news media and as soon as possible once the governor sets the time frame.
Alabama’s execution protocol was revised in March after the Alabama Supreme Court announced an unprecedented rule change granting the governor unrestricted discretion to set a “time frame” for carrying out executions.
Under the new protocol, the State was required to inform Mr. Barber as soon as possible after the execution was scheduled.
The protocol states that once “ADOC has received notice from the Governor setting the time frame for the condemned inmate’s execution, the Holman Warden will advise the condemned inmate as soon as possible.”
Neither the Holman Warden nor any representative of the State of Alabama had notified James Barber or his counsel about the time frame for his execution until late morning today.
The protocol also clearly states: “All efforts should be made to notify the condemned inmate prior to any announcement by news media.”
But before the State notified Mr. Barber or his counsel, the news media received notice about the execution time frame and announced it online.
The State’s failure to follow its own rules on notice raises new questions about its commitment and ability to carry out a lethal injection execution in accordance with its execution protocol, following the State’s torturous multi-hour execution of Joe James last July and its failed attempts to execute Alan Miller and Kenny Smith.