Alabama executions through the years: Facts, figures and failures

Alabama’s handling, and mishandling, of executions in recent years has drawn national and international attention. But through the decades, the state has had an impact beyond its borders with how it determines which person is executed and how it carries out killing condemned inmates.

Here are the some of the facts, failures and impacts of executions in Alabama.

Who's on death row in Alabama?

There are 164 inmates on death row with their average age being 33.

  • Black men: 78

  • White men: 79

  • Men of other races: 2

  • Black women: 1

  • White women: 4

More: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sets execution date for death row inmate Jamie Ray Mills

Death row for men in Alabama is at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, with additional housing for men on death row at William C. Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer. The death chamber is at Holman prison, the only facility where executions are carried out.

Death row for women is at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.

Defendants convicted of capital murder can be sentenced to the death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Capital murder is the most severe charge the state can bring.

Methods of execution in Alabama are electrocution, lethal injection and nitrogen hypoxia.

Key dates in Alabama executions

  • 1812: Eli Norman is hung for murder in the first recorded execution in the Alabama Territory. Alabama did not become a state until 1819.

  • 1927: Electrocution replaces hanging as the state’s method of execution. British inmate Ed Mason built the chair in 1927 at Kilby Prison which was where executions took place then. The electric chair got the nickname “Yellow Mama" after the wooden chair was painted with yellow highway striping paint, since the Alabama Highway Department was next to the prison. Horace DeVaughn was the first inmate to be electrocuted in Alabama.

  • 1972: In Furman v. Georgia, The United States Supreme Court strikes down the death penalty.

  • 1976: Alabama reinstates capital punishment. The Supreme Court soon also reinstates the death penalty when it upholds Georgia’s statute in Gregg v. Georgia.

  • 1983: John Evans III is the first person executed in Alabama after Gregg.

  • 2002: Alabama electrocutes Lynda Lyon Block, the last person to be electrocuted in Alabama as a method of execution. Alabama subsequently made lethal injection its default execution method, but continued to allow inmates to select electrocution.

  • 2012: In Miller v. Alabama and its companion case, Jackson v. Hobbs, The Supreme Court rules that mandatory life without parole sentences for children convicted of homicide for acts when they were 17 or younger is unconstitutional.

  • 2018: Alabama authorizes the use of nitrogen gas as a method of execution.

  • 2018: At 83 years old, Walter Leroy Moody becomes the oldest person and only octogenarian put to death in the United States since executions resumed in 1977. Moody sent out four mail bombs in December of 1989, killing Judge Robert S. Vance, a member of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Alabama; and Robert E. Robinson, a black civil rights attorney from Savannah, Georgia. Two other bombs, including one mailed to the NAACP office in Jacksonville, Florida, were intercepted and did not explode.

  • 2022: Alabama executes Joe Nathan James Jr. after taking more than three hours to get access to his veins for the IV to be used. In the same year, Alabama halts the executions of Alan Eugene Miller and Kenneth Eugene Smith after the execution team could not access their veins before their death warrants expired at midnight and halted the process.

  • 2022: Governor Kay Ivey halts executions and calls for the Alabama Department of Corrections to carry out  a “top to bottom review” of the process.

  • 2023: A report following the review shows a new execution team would be put in place and the death warrant would extend to 30 hours.

  • 2023: Executions resume with the lethal injection executions of James Edward Barber in August and Casey McWhorter in November.

  • 2024: Alabama is the first to execute a person by nitrogen hypoxia, with the execution of Kenneth Eugene Smith in January.

  • 2024: Ivey sets the execution date for Jamie Mills for the 30-hour period of midnight May 30 to 6 a.m. May 31. Lethal injection will be the method. The Alabama Supreme Court has authorized the execution of Keith Edmund Gavin. No date has been set, with lethal injection as the method. The AG's office has asked that the execution of Alan Eugene Miller with nitrogen hypoxia as the method, be authorized by the high court.

Number of Alabama executions by year

  • 1983: 1

  • 1984: 0

  • 1985: 0

  • 1986: 1

  • 1987: 1

  • 1988: 0

  • 1989: 4

  • 1990: 1

  • 1991: 0

  • 1992: 2

  • 1993: 0

  • 1994: 0

  • 1995: 2

  • 1996: 1

  • 1997: 3

  • 1998: 2

  • 1999: 0

  • 2000: 4

  • 2001: 0

  • 2002: 2

  • 2003: 3

  • 2004: 2

  • 2005: 4

  • 2006: 1

  • 2007: 3

  • 2008: 0

  • 2009: 6

  • 2010: 5

  • 2011: 6

  • 2012: 0

  • 2013: 1

  • 2014: 0

  • 2015: 0

  • 2016: 2

  • 2017: 3

  • 2018: 2

  • 2019: 3

  • 2020: 1

  • 2021: 1

  • 2022: 2

  • 2023: 2

  • 2024: 1

Sources: The Alabama Department of Corrections, The Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Associated Press, the Death Penalty Information Center an the Montgomery Advertiser.

Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Marty Roney at

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama executions through the years: Facts, figures and failures