In the next five months, Alabama seeks to execute an unprecedented number of people. The Alabama Supreme Court announced on December 3, 2008, that it has scheduled five executions for the first five months of 2009. If these executions are carried out, next year will see the most executions in Alabama in a single year since 1949.
The Alabama Supreme Court scheduled James Callahan’s execution for January 15, 2009; Danny Bradley for February 12; Philip Hallford for March 19; Jimmy Dill for April 16; and Willie McNair for May 14.
The State of Alabama was prevented from carrying out any executions in 2008. Three men were executed in the state in 2007.
Alabama’s dramatic increase in executions from zero in 2008 to five scheduled in the first half of 2009 contrasts sharply with the nationwide decline in executions.
A total of 53 executions were carried out in the United States in 2006, down from 60 the previous year. In 2007, the number of executions declined to 42 – the lowest in thirteen years. Executions over the past three decades peaked at 98 in 1999.
So far in 2008, 36 people have been executed nationwide.
The Alabama Supreme Court’s scheduling of five executions in five months raises concerns about the record number of executions in Alabama and about increased strain and problems it creates for advocates, prisoners, and prison officials.