Governor Bill Richardson and the International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP), an independent body of international political figures, issued a letter addressed to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey expressing “serious concern” with Alabama’s planned execution of Doyle Lee Hamm, scheduled for February 22, 2018. The strongly worded letter, signed by ICDP President Judge Navi Pillay, Vice President Ruth Dreifuss, and Governor Bill Richardson, cite Doyle Hamm’s “serious medical conditions.”
The ICDP letter mentions the decision of federal district judge Karon O. Bowdre, chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, who granted a stay of execution on February 15, 2018, after finding that there was a high likelihood that intravenous lethal injection could cause Hamm to suffer needlessly. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the stay, but, in addition to continuing litigation, Professor Harcourt has asked Alabama Governor Kay Ivey for clemency.
In support of Hamm’s clemency efforts, the ICDP letter calls on Governor Ivey to halt Hamm’s execution and permit him to serve the rest of his life in prison. “We believe that carrying out Mr. Hamm’s execution,” the letter reads, “given his serious medical condition, is unconscionable and represents a serious erosion of [Alabama’s] proud tradition of compassion and of respecting and protecting human dignity.”
Governor Bill Richardson, a Commissioner of ICDP, expressed particular concern with Hamm’s execution, drawing from his own experience with death penalty cases as governor of New Mexico. When Governor Richardson took office, the death penalty was still in force in his state and he often faced the “difficult process” that Governor Ivey now confronts of “signing an execution order.” Governor Richardson struggled with the ethics of capital punishment and, through a “process of introspection,” changed his position on the death penalty, ultimately signing a bill abolishing the punishment in March 2009. Signing the bill was the “most difficult decision of his life,” the letter states, but “Governor Richardson did so and now the respect and protection of the right to life and thereby of human dignity in his state is his long-lasting legacy.”
“We call on you,” the ICDP members conclude, speaking directly to Governor Ivey, “noting his long imprisonment facing the death penalty and his extremely frail condition following his cancer, to allow Mr. Hamm to serve the rest of his life in prison.”