Glance: Execution drug secrecy in 5 states

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm •  Published: April 30, 2014
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An Associated Press survey of the nation's 32 death penalty states found that the vast majority refuse to disclose the source of their execution drugs.

Some states with laws shielding information about execution drugs and policies and the challenges to those laws:

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GEORGIA

Law: Shields the "identifying information of any person or entity who participates in or administers the execution of a death sentence and the identifying information of any person or entity that manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes the drugs, medical supplies, or medical equipment utilized in the execution of a death sentence."

Challenge: A state court last year stayed an execution after a death row inmate challenged the law. The case is pending before the state Supreme Court, which has effectively halted executions.

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LOUISIANA

Law: Identities of people "who participate or perform ancillary functions in an execution of the death sentence, either directly or indirectly, shall remain strictly confidential and the identities of those persons and information about those persons which could lead to the determination of the identities of those persons shall not be subject to public disclosure in any manner."

Challenge: Louisiana's attempts at secrecy are the subject of an ongoing federal lawsuit. A bill allowing the state to withhold the names of companies that make the drugs is making its way through the state Legislature.

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MISSOURI

Laws: Shield the "identities of members of the execution team, as defined in the execution protocol of the department of corrections." Last year, the Missouri Department of Corrections amended its protocol to show that the execution team consists of "contracted medical personnel" and department employees. The phrasing allows the department to include the pharmacy that makes its execution drug as part of the team and not subject to public scrutiny.

Challenge: A lawsuit filed on behalf of 16 inmates claims Missouri's refusal to name the drugmaker, even privately to attorneys, makes it impossible to know whether the drug is suitable for an execution, or whether its use could violate the constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. Several states, including Missouri, use compounded execution drugs purchased from unnamed pharmacies. Courts so far have allowed most executions to move forward. Missouri has executed one death row inmate each month since November. Another Missouri inmate, Russell Bucklew, is scheduled for execution on May 21.



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