Pull Back The Curtains On Executions

Alabama Department of Corrections & Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey

Pull Back The Curtains on Executions - Secrecy is a Problem!

On July 28, 2022 at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama Department of Corrections officials strapped Joe James, Jr. to a gurney and prepared him to be executed. Normally this should take minutes, but those minutes dragged into several hours.

The Alabama Department of Corrections assured everyone that “nothing out of the ordinary” had taken place, but nothing could be further from the truth. Because the Alabama Department of Corrections refused to be transparent about what happened, independent pathologists hired by Reprieve, an international human rights organization, performed an autopsy.

Elizabeth Bruenig, a reporter with the Atlantic who witnessed the exam, published what she saw:

“The state seems to have attempted to insert IV catheters into each of his hands just above the knuckles, resulting in broad smears of violet bruising. Then it looked as though the execution team had tried again, forcing needles into each of his wrists, with the same bleeding beneath the skin and the same indigo mottling around the puncture wounds. On the inside of James’s left arm, another puncture site, another pool of deep bruising, and then, a scant distance above, a strange, jagged incision, at James’s inner elbow. The laceration met another cut at an obtuse angle. That longer, narrower slice was part of a parallel pair, which matched a fainter, shallower set of parallel cuts. Underneath the mutilated portion of James’s arm was what appeared to be yet another puncture—a noticeable crimson pinprick in the center of a radiating blue-green bruise. Other, less clear marks littered his arm as well.”

Joe James Jr. was tortured by executioners who clearly had no idea of what they were doing. This was done outside the view of official witnesses.

Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood, A Death Penalty Action Advisory Board Member who has accompanied 12 men to their execution in Texas, spelled out the issues on this blog post.

Then, Alan Miller was scheduled for execution at 6pm on Sept. 22, 2022. Nutshell: After a stay was granted by the federal district court and upheld by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the US Supreme Court overturned the stay and allowed the execution to proceed. This was well after 9pm. Alabama officials started the execution process but ran out of time, and Miller was returned to his cell - only the fourth time a prisoner has survived an execution attempt since 1972.

They started poking him with needles. Then they stopped. All without witnesses present. Think about that for a moment.

We must #PullBackTheCurtains on this insanity. The torture endured by all concerned is unacceptable. The incompetence is astounding. Alabama must #PullBackTheCurtains on executions.

Petition language:

Regardless of where we stand on the death penalty, signers of this petition are united in demanding far greater transparency in the execution process.

One of the deepest moral beliefs we have in this country is a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. We say we believe in freedom of information and informed participation in government. If that is true, the tragic lack of transparency that occurred at the execution of Joe James, Jr. must not be allowed to happen again.

We demand a revision of Alabama execution protocols to require that public representatives witnessing executions see and hear the entire process. When the state legally executes prisoners behind prison walls, the public must be represented by independent witnesses to the entire process, starting from the moment a prisoner walks him or herself into the death chamber until they are declared dead. This is true regardless of the method of executions. If we must have executions, pull back the curtains!


The language of this petition and background information may be adjusted from time to time, however its intent will not change.

Sponsored by

To: Alabama Department of Corrections & Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey
From: [Your Name]

Regardless of where we stand on the death penalty, signers of this petition are united in demanding far greater transparency in the execution process.

One of the deepest moral beliefs we have in this country is a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. We say we believe in freedom of information and informed participation in government. If that is true, the tragic lack of transparency that occurred at the execution of Joe James, Jr. must not be allowed to happen again.

We demand a revision of Alabama execution protocols to require that public representatives witnessing executions see and hear the entire process. When the state legally executes prisoners behind prison walls, the public must be represented by independent witnesses to the entire process, starting from the moment a prisoner walks him or herself into the death chamber until they are declared dead. This is true regardless of the method of executions. If we must have executions, pull back the curtains!