4 States Pass Laws Hiding Names of Suppliers of Death Penalty Drugs

Friday, May 24, 2013

With the loss of suppliers of lethal injection drugs have come new laws intended to protect manufacturers from public scrutiny by opponents of capital punishment.


In recent years, states have faced shortages of sodium thiopental, pentobarbital and other drugs administered to prisoners who are to be executed.


Prison officials have struggled to get supplies of the drugs due to public campaigns by Reprieve, an anti-death penalty organization based in London that utilizes freedom of information laws and the media to convince the drug’s makers to cut off the supply.


Now, in an effort to thwart these advocacy campaigns, some states have passed laws to provide a cloak of secrecy around the names of suppliers.


Georgia adopted a new law in March that deems any information about a “person or entity that manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes the drugs, medical supplies or medical equipment” used in executions to be a “confidential state secret.”


In addition, three other states — Arkansas, South Dakota and Tennessee — have amended their public records laws to exempt the names of suppliers from disclosure. Officials in Texas, which leads the nation in executions, have also resisted requests for information about the drugs they use and their manufacturers.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

A Prolonged Stay: The Reasons Behind the Slow Pace of Executions (by Raymond Bonner, ProPublica)

States Scramble for Execution Drug as Other Countries Balk (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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