The execution of Alabama death row inmate Joe Nathan James Jr. last month may have taken longer than any other capital punishment in US history, according to human rights organization Reprieve US.
As reported by The Guardian, an analysis conducted by the aforementioned group estimates that it took state officials between three and three and a half hours to carry out James’ death penalty.
Reprieve US argues that this goes against the constitutional rights of US citizens to humane punishments.
“Subjecting a prisoner to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,” the director of Reprieve US, Maya Foa, said in a statement over the weekend. “States cannot continue to pretend that the abhorrent practice of lethal injection is in any way humane.”
Credit: Alabama Department of Corrections
As reported by CNN, James was given a lethal injection at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore on July 28.
He was executed over the 1994 murder of his ex-girlfriend – despite pleas from the victim’s family to refrain from taking away the man’s life.
The execution took place just two days after the US Court of Appeals rejected a motion to stay his execution. He was pronounced dead at 9:27 PM local time, but was supposed to be put to death some three hours earlier, at 6:00 PM.
In 1996, James was convicted of fatally shooting 26-year-old Faith Hall in Birmingham and was later given the death sentence.
Hall’s daughters argued that James should serve a life sentence in prison. However, Alabama governor, Kay Ivey, stated that the execution would take place regardless.
Credit: Jim West / Alamy
In response to the governor’s call to proceed with the execution, Hall’s family said in a statement published by the local TV station WIAT:
“Today is a tragic day for our family. We are having to relive the hurt that this caused us many years ago. We hoped the state wouldn’t take a life simply because a life was taken and we have forgiven Mr Joe Nathan James Jr …
“We pray that God allows us to find healing after today and that one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours even if it goes against what the state wishes. Our voices matter and so does the life of Mr Joe Nathan James Jr.”
James was said to have had a brief romance with Hall, later becoming obsessed with her after she rejected him and proceeded to harass and stalk her for months, before eventually going on to shoot her dead.
Per court documents, James managed to get inside her friend’s apartment on August 15, 1994 and shot Hall three times.
A jury found James guilty of capital murder and voted to recommend the death penalty, which was imposed by a judge.
This was overturned when a state appeals court ruled a judge had wrongly submitted police reports as evidence for the jury. James had a retrial in 1999 and was again sentenced to death.
Hall’s daughters were aged three and six when they lost their mother. The two said they would rather James serve life in prison.
“I just feel like we can’t play God. We can’t take a life. And it’s not going to bring my mom back,” Terryln Hall told The Associated Press.
“We thought about it and prayed about it, and we found it in ourselves to forgive him for what he did. We really wish there was something that we could do to stop it.”