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Alabama Prisoner Mistreated During Three-Hour Execution


Joe Nathan James Jr. was sentenced to die for killing 26-year-old Faith Hall in 1994. The pair had dated before James was rejected, and he shot her to death, according to the Guardian. Hall’s daughters did not want James to be executed, rather to spend the rest of his life imprisoned. Alabama officials did not honor their request executed him by lethal injection. James was scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. on July 28, but media witnesses were only allowed to enter the execution chamber around 9 p.m. At 9.27 p.m. officials declared him deceased. Citing evidence from James’s autopsy as well as a report from The Atlantic, for three hours, James’s execution team tried and failed multiple times to insert an IV line before attempting a procedure that may have caused him to struggle resulting in injuries on his hands and wrists. Then, James was sedated by officials, which explained why he never opened his eyes or moved. When asked if he had any last words, James never spoke, reported an analysis by the organization Reprieve US. Maya Foa, the Reprieve US director, argued that James essentially underwent two executions, saying: “First, [it was] a torturous procedure behind closed doors, then a theatrical performance for witnesses.”

The organization said it has reviewed more than 275 wrongfully preformed executions in the U.S.– involving all methods – since 1890. Most of these cases centered on prisoners who were presumed dead, found to be alive, and then executed a second time.. However, none of these cases took longer to carry out than James’s, whose may have taken longer than any other lethal injection recorded in American history. For the human rights group, the event called to mind Alabama’s disorderly 2018 execution of convicted murderer Doyle Lee Hamm. Hamm’s legs and groin were punctured for two and a half hours in an unsuccessful attempt to begin pumping lethal drugs into him before the execution was called off. Referring to James’s execution, Foa stated: “This is the latest example of the extreme lengths states will go to hide the brutal reality of lethal injection because they know the public would oppose it if they found out what was really going on.” Alabama prison officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday on Reveal US’s analysis.

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