Ronald Smith Scheduled for Execution Tonight

Dec 8, 2016

Execution chamber at Holman Correctional Facility.

An Alabama man is just hours away from execution by lethal injection. Ronald Bert Smith was sentenced to die for killing a convenience store clerk in 1994. It would be the first execution in the state since 2013. But it’s how a judge arrived at the death penalty in this case that has civil rights groups crying foul…

Ronald Smith’s jury recommended life in prison. The judge overturned that suggestion and imposed the death penalty. Alabama is the only state where a judge is empowered to do that. The APR news team reported on this policy during our series on justice reform.

New York attorney Evan Farber is representing another Alabama man on death row after his life sentence was overturned as well. Farber says it’s not right…

“The prosecutorial community in Alabama disagrees with that. But, we think it’s very, very unfair and unconstitutional.”

More on the debate over judicial override in Alabama can be heard in APR's documentary on prison and justice reform, "...and justice for all."