Birmingham defense attorney believes death penalty's days are numbered in AL

Birmingham defense attorney believes death penalty's days are numbered in AL

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Coughing repeatedly and heaving heavily for 13 minutes.

That's how reporters who viewed the execution of Alabama death row inmate Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. describe his reaction to the state's new execution injection cocktail.

Alabama Department of corrections officials say there was no evidence Smith suffered. Even so, the details concern those who oppose the death penalty, like Birmingham defense attorney, Richard Jaffe who points out that the U.S. is the only western country to still use it.

"And if we're going to be the only state practically no standards in doing it then we ought to do it humanely and do it right," Jaffe said.

Jaffe wrote the book Quest for Justice--Defending the Defamed after handling more than 60 death row cases. He calls the death penalty barbaric, archaic and beyond repair.

"We've tried to refine it since it came back in 1978 and we have failed to make it work. It doesn't work. And we know it will eventually be gone," Jaffe claimed.

He believes it will happen in the next six to seven years.

Until then, he says Alabama death row inmates will be able to point to Smith's case to show Alabama's cocktail is torturous and unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, ADOC states the way the state executes inmates has already been upheld.

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