Alabama’s first execution was carried out in 1812. From 1812 to 1927, the primary method of execution was hanging. In 1927, the electric chair was introduced. The modern death penalty was reinstated in Alabama in 1976. Today, the primary method of execution is lethal injection, although inmates convicted prior to 2002 can choose to be executed by electrocution or lethal injection. Since 1976, more than 50 executions have occurred.
There are notable cases in recent history in which new information emerged after conviction that cast doubt on the guilt of condemned prisoners, but in most of those cases the prisoners were still executed. One exception was Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death in 1988 despite the jury’s recommendation for a life sentence. An investigation by 60 Minutes uncovered prosecutorial misconduct and perjury by witnessess. McMillan was released from prison in 1993.
Senator Hank Sanders has introduced a moratorium bill in the state senate for over a decade. Representative Merika Coleman has introduced a moratorium bill in the state house for the past five years.
Alabama is one of only three states that allow judges to override jury sentencing recommendations, and the only state that allows a judge, without restriction, to override a jury vote for a life sentence. It is also the only state whose anti-death penalty organization (Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty) was founded by death row inmates. Founded in 1989, the Chairman and Board are at Holman Prison on death row.